Disasters

The Steadily-Dying Sierra Nevadas

Dying trees pepper the Yosemite landscape.

Drought, Bark Beetle Infestation, Climate Change Imperil Sierra Pine Forests

Like over 600 other environmental lawyers, professors, law students and regulators, I attended the 25th annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite last weekend.  As always, the Conference–sponsored by the California State Bar’s Environmental Law Section–was a big success, filled with inspirational speakers and thought-provoking panels. But the major topic of conversation–during the Conference proceedings, in […]

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Louisiana Flood Lessons for a Climate-Changed Future

NOAA flood photo

Louisiana’s preparedness for a 1000-year flood, and implications of the slow media response for slow-onset climate impacts

The devastating floods in southern Louisiana a week ago left at least 13 people dead, tens of thousands in need of rescue, and 60,000 homes damaged. In one parish, nearly ninety percent of homes flooded. Cellular network failures, road closures, power outages, and sewage-contaminated floodwaters continue to threaten relief efforts. The American Red Cross is […]

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California Fines SoCal Gas for Corroded Pipe Casings

The CPUC issued the fine after finding dozens of violations

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a citation for violations of a federal regulation on Southern California Gas Co. (SoCal Gas) totaling $2.25 million. The citation is based on forty-five violations of a federal regulation requiring that operators “take prompt remedial action to correct any deficiencies indicated by” external corrosion monitoring. According to the May […]

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Former Massey Energy CEO Sentenced to Prison for Actions Leading to 2010 Coal Mine Disaster

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What Broader Environmental and Worker Safety Enforcement Lessons Can Be Learned Here?

A federal district judge on Wednesday sentenced Don Blankenship, the former Chief Executive of Massey Energy, to serve one year in federal prison–the maximum term allowed by law–and to personally pay a criminal penalty of $250,000 for Blankenship’s acts of omission and commission that led to the notorious 2010 coal mining disaster at Massey’s Upper […]

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Mitigating the Climate Impacts of Aliso Canyon

Equipment and machinery is seen on a ridge above a natural gas well known as SS25 in Southern California Gas Company's vast Aliso Canyon facility. Pressure on the company has been mounting as residents of nearby Porter Ranch deal with the odor resulting from a leak at the well which was discovered on October 23. 12/14/2015

Staff from California Air Resources Board released the Draft Aliso Canyon Methane Leak Climate Impacts Mitigation Program last week. While the program has yet to gain approval by the Board, the final version will probably not change much. Overall, the Draft Program signals ARB’s desire to take full advantage of the political will and financial […]

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Lessons From Flint

Flint water

A public-minded researcher discovers serious contamination of drinking water. His efforts to alert local officials are rebuffed. Concerned over how this will affect their reputation and the town’s economy, the authorities sit on the evidence and deny any problems. All the while, trusting people continue to drink unsafe water. While the setting may call to […]

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Risk Subsidies and the Future of Nuclear Power in the U.S.

Should We Take Into Account Government Subsidies that Reduce the Risks Borne by the Nuclear Industry as We Consider Our Energy Future?

As I’ve written about before, U.S. law massively subsidizes the nuclear power industry.  In particular, a law called the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act dramatically skews the incentives to develop nuclear plants, and to site them in places where there is a lot of risk, because it requires the public to bear much of the […]

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Lessons from Aliso Canyon, Part II

Equipment and machinery is seen on a ridge above a natural gas well known as SS25 in Southern California Gas Company's vast Aliso Canyon facility. Pressure on the company has been mounting as residents of nearby Porter Ranch deal with the odor resulting from a leak at the well which was discovered on October 23. 12/14/2015

Leaks in Regulation

  Today, Southern California Gas announced it has successfully and permanently stopped the methane leak at its Aliso Canyon storage site. This marks the (fingers-crossed) end of a multi-month environmental crisis in northwest Los Angeles, causing residents to move and schools to close. Earlier this month, I blogged about the possible lessons we could learn […]

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Public Prosecutors Zero In on SoCal Gas, Porter Ranch Disaster

Aliso Canyon

California Attorney General, L.A. District Attorney File New Enforcement Prosecutions

The massive leak from Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon natural gas field in northwestern Los Angeles County was discovered on October 23rd of last year and, more than three months later, shows no sign of abating.  Public prosecutors have pretty clearly lost patience with SoCal gas and its ineffective remediation efforts to date.  This […]

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