Federal Climate Policy

The Social Cost of Carbon – Revisited

The case for using global rather than simply U.S. impacts.

The estimated harm done by a single ton of carbon in the atmosphere – the “social cost of carbon” — is a key factor in setting climate policy. The Trump Administration is trying to get its estimate as close to zero as possible. A key part of this effort is to exclude from consideration the […]

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Trump vs. Obama: Comparing Their First-Year Records

What Trump accomplish in his first year? In terms of energy & environment, less than Obama.

There’s been a lot of sound and fury, and many proposals are in the works. But what have the concrete results been so far? And how does Trump’s effectiveness stack up again Obama’s? I was prompted to ask that question by a note from Jonathan Rosenbloom, an environmental law scholar at Drake University. I had […]

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Scott Pruitt’s Faulty Logic

There’s a gaping hole in Pruitt’s argument for repealing the Obama’s climate change rule.

An earlier blog post pointed to a logical gap in the current EPA’s justification for repealing the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Obama Administration effort to cut emissions from electrical power plants. He makes an argument that EPA can only base rules on actions that polluters can take within a facility, and jumps from there […]

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Eight Setbacks for Trump

Trump hasn’t had things all his own way. Not by any means.

The Trump Administration has begun some bold initiatives but it’s too soon to know how they will fare. It also had some early success with blocking Obama’s regulation in Congress. But it has also had some significant setbacks, with courts or Congress rejecting positions it had embraced. Those setbacks make it clear that, bad as […]

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Scott Pruitt: “What, me worry?”

The right question about greenhouse gas emissions is not whether there is an “ideal” global temperature regime, but what problems rapid regime shifts produce

(Readers of a certain age will understand the reference, and see the resemblance. If that’s not you, never mind. But read on for a little less snark and a little more analysis.) According to the Washington Post, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wondered in a television interview Tuesday whether global warming “necessarily is a bad thing,” […]

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The Story Behind a Political Breakthrough

Congress passed a 2017 law recognizing climate change as a serious threat. How did THAT happen?

Last month, Congress passed and Trump signed a provision in the Defense Authorization Act that designates climate change a serious threat to national security. That was a historic first. I blogged about the bill last month, but it seemed worthwhile to investigate this surprising development further. Although there’s no direct evidence, there are strong indications […]

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What’s Ahead in 2018? The Top Five Things to Watch For.

2018 will be a big year for environmental law, either for good or for bad.

2016 was a huge year in environmental law, with big achievements like the Paris Agreement and huge disappointments like the presidential election.  By contrast, 2017 was pretty predictable: Trump did just what he promised during the campaign.  The year ahead of us will have some big events to watch out for.  Here are my nominations […]

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The Off-Switch is Inside the Fenceline

Pruitt’s argument for repealing the Clean Power Plan has a logical flaw.

The Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan would require utilities to improve efficiency at coal-fired power plants and reduce the use of those plants in favor of generators using natural gas or renewables. Head of EPA Scott Pruitt claims EPA can only require CO2 cuts that can be accomplished by utilities “inside the fenceline” of a […]

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Truth Will Out.

At least 3 times, the Administration has admitted the reality and dangers of climate change.

Despite all the efforts at disinformation, the Trump Administration has let the truth slip out. On four occasions, the Administration has issued or signed warnings about climate change. One is an act of Congress.  I’ll begin with the most recent and most significant example. Last Tuesday, Trump signed the Defense Authorization Act, HR 1810. The […]

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The Roots of Regulatory Robustness

What makes regulations politically robust or fragile when Administrations change?

We’ve seen a lot of regulatory innovations in the past decade. Many are under attack, and that underscores the importance of understanding what makes some innovations more robust than others. I don’t have a general theory to offer about what gives some regulations more ability than others to withstand adverse political shifts. But it’s instructive […]

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