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Zero Trash

Los Angeles River (LA Times)

Using the Clean Water Act to Control Marine Debris in California

This post is cross-posted on EcoPerspectives, the environmental law and policy blog of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law. Let’s talk trash. Human-generated stuff that ends up in the ocean, termed “marine debris” or “marine trash,” presents a critical ocean and coastal management challenge. Trash can be found on coastlines and in seawater worldwide, from […]

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How to Erode Public Confidence in Regulatory Decisions: Meet With Parties Behind Closed Doors

scales of justice

A scandal at the California Public Utilities Commissions brings a questionable practice to light.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has an unusual way of doing business. Most state and federal regulatory agencies prohibit private, closed-door discussions with interested parties about contested matters (ex parte communications). Even though it makes decisions affecting the welfare of Californians and the disposition of billions of dollars, the CPUC does not discourage ex […]

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Property Rights and California Raisins: Headed to the Supreme Court–Again

Raisins

Justices To Rule on Whether Feds' Depression-Era Agricultural Regulations Unconstitutionally "Take" Farmers' Property Without Compensation

The media and U.S. Supreme Court watchers have understandably focused on the justices’ order yesterday agreeing to review the constitutionality of state same-sex marriage bans–automatically making it the “blockbuster” issue before the Court this Term.  Largely overshadowed by that news was the justices’ contemporaneous decision to revisit the interrelated issues of property rights, the Takings […]

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2014: Happy Endings & Promising Starts

year-in-review-2014-image

In most ways, 2014 was a good year for environmental protection, with progress on several fronts.  True, there are warning signs for 2015 — primarily the Republican sweep of the mid-terms and the Supreme Court’s puzzling decision to review toxics regulations for coal-fired power plants.  And of course, there were losses as well as victories, […]

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An Administrative Overreach?

The White House has proposed new guidelines on how to treat greenhouse gas emissions in environmental impact statements.  Basically, the document recommends a quantitative analysis of carbon emissions whenever emissions exceed 25,000 tons per year.  The proposal goes beyond a previous one in targeting resource projects such as coal mines as well as direct emissions. […]

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Can We Control Climate Change and Still Have Economic Growth? (Part II)

economic growth

It's all in the timing.

Yesterday’s post discussed economic growth and how it relates in principle to carbon emissions.  Basically, economic growth just means that people will be getting goods and services they prefer over today’s goods and service.  There’s no intrinsic reason why the “better” bundle necessarily has to involve more carbon.  In fact, it could involve a lot less carbon. […]

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Looking Back at COP20: How Should We Feel?

COP20 welcome reception, Lima, Peru.

The Lima Accord lets countries name their own price to address climate change. But that doesn't mean it failed.

As you’ve probably heard by now, this year’s UN climate change conference has produced an agreement, the “Lima Accord.” The Accord invites each of the nearly 200 negotiating countries to develop an “intended nationally determined contribution” (INDC) to reduce its GHG emissions. INDCs represent some step forward from each country–in the words of the Accord, “a progression […]

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Can We Control Climate Change and Still Have Economic Growth? (Part I)

economic growth

What do we mean by "economic growth"? Does it always mean more carbon?

The Washington Post recently had a column arguing that even climate advocates and scientists are in denial, for thinking that we can have economic growth and still fight climate change.  is that true? It’s useful to take some time to think through what we mean by economic growth and how that relates to carbon emissions. […]

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Our Air is a Lot Cleaner and Prospects for Climate Action a Lot Brighter Thanks to Citizen Suits

Smokestack

Climate change, ozone and mercury rules all the result of citizen suits

Three sets of Obama Administration’s environmental rules are in the news these days:  those on climate change, mercury and ozone.  The President is being praised among environmentalists for his ambitious actions and lambasted by some business and Republican leaders for engaging in a “war on coal.”   Yet lost among the clamor is one key […]

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More Thoughts on the US-China Climate Announcement

Ann Carlson and I talk with the New York Times on US politics, Chinese implementation, and the potential impact on India.

Ann Carlson and I talked with Edward Wong from the New York Times last week about the US-China Climate Announcement.  We repost the Q&A here. From Edward Wong, NYT:  The biggest commitments to come out of President Obama’s recent visit to China involved climate change policy. The leaders of the two nations stood beside each […]

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