California

Is California Finally Ready to Get Serious About Groundwater Reform?

Prospects Good for Passage of Landmark Groundwater Legislation

California, which prides itself as being a national and international leader in so many areas of environmental policy, lags woefully behind other jurisdictions when it comes to at least one subject area: groundwater regulation.  Alone among the Western states in the U.S., California lacks any statewide system of groundwater regulation and planning.  (Until a few […]

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Groundwater and the public trust doctrine, California style

The dewatered Scott River west of Fort Jones, CA, Sept. 2, 2009. Photo by Klamath Riverkeeper. Flight by LightHawk.

California trial court rules that public trust doctrine applies to pumping that reduces flow in a navigable waterway

If you follow California water law or environmental law, you probably have been aware that the Environmental Law Foundation has been pursuing a public trust claim based on groundwater pumping that affects the Scott River. Last week they gained a victory at the trial court level, with a ruling that endorses the principle that groundwater […]

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Commemorating the Yosemite Grant Act

National Park Service historic photo collection.

150 years ago, Yosemite Valley was set aside for public use and recreation

We’re a little bit late on this one, but can’t let it pass completely unacknowledged. And actually the timing is perfect — when better to commemorate the national parks, famously called by Wallace Stegner (and later Ken Burns) “America’s best idea” then on Fourth of July weekend? 150 years ago this week, President Lincoln signed […]

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Update: U.S. Supreme Court Denies Review in California Low Carbon Fuel Standard Case

Justices Decline to Address Constitutionality of LCFS

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied certiorari in closely-watched cases in which the constitutionality of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) was being challenged.  The LCFS is, in turn, an integral part of the state’s multifaceted strategy to reduce California’s aggregate greenhouse gas emissions as required under AB 32, the state’s landmark 2006 climate change […]

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California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Before the Supreme Court

Will the Justices Choose to Decide the LCFS's Constitutionality?

You might think that the U.S. Supreme Court, having decided the Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA Clean Air Act case on Monday, was done for the current Term when it comes to environmental law and policy. Think again. Today the justices met in conference to decide whether to grant review in a large number of pending […]

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Oil By Rail: Nine Things California Can Do to Increase Safety

While FRA Considers New Federal Regulations, States Can Ramp Up Prevention and Emergency Response

At a joint Senate and Assembly hearing last week on oil by rail safety in California, some lawmakers expressed frustration at slow federal action, and asked what California can do to increase public safety. My testimony focused on federal preemption issues, defining areas where the state can regulate, and those where it is preempted by […]

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California Court Upholds State Water Board’s Broad Authority to Ban Unreasonable Uses of Water

Ruling is Especially Timely, Given California's Ongoing and Severe Drought Conditions

I recently wrote about a then-pending court case in which California grape growers were challenging the State Water Resources Control Board’s limits on the growers’ diversion of water from California rivers and streams to provide frost protection for their grapes.  That litigation is important because it goes to the heart of the Board’s authority under […]

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Not My Default

With California's AB 2145, legislators try to keep cities and counties from buying green power.

It is well-understood that people don’t change easily. I hold myself out as Exhibit A. When I signed up for landline phone and internet service, the phone charge was $35 per month, and the internet another $30. Over the years, although the phone company never announced a rate increase, I experienced rate creep. What once […]

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A Bailout By Any Other Name…

Weak environmental laws are another form of bailouts for private industry

Bailouts – the payment of public funds or resources to rescue or support a private enterprise – are politically very unpopular. The primary challenger who defeated Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia excoriated Cantor for supporting big banks in the wake of the financial crisis. The bailout of banks after the crisis that […]

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Mick Jagger on Chemical Reform

Vermont's new chemical program looks to be a mixed bag

Vermont just joined the posse of states taking chemical regulation reform into their own hands in the face of inaction in Congress.  Last week the Green Mountain State enacted a new law covering chemicals in children’s products.  (A children’s product is defined as “any consumer product, marketed for use by, marketed to, sold, offered for […]

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