General

The Missing of Summer Lawns*

lawn photo

It's Time to End the Wasteful Practice of Irrigating California's Residential Landscaping With Fresh Water

What a difference a drought makes. Once upon a time, a fundamental attribute of home ownership in California and the American West was an expansive, verdant lawn surrounding private homes, townhouses and apartment complexes. Indeed, some communities have historically imposed permit conditions or adopted local ordinances mandating the inclusion and maintenance of lush, healthy lawns […]

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Does Keystone Matter?

Project XL

A recent analysis suggests that the pipeline could result in production of a billion extra barrels between now and 2030.

Many people who have studied the issue tell me that the Keystone XL issue is mostly symbolic, because the Alberta oil sands are going to be used one way or another.  But I’m having some second thoughts because of arguments made (here) by Berkeley economist Max Aufhammer. He’s a pretty hard-headed analyst, not given to […]

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Biofuels and Food Prices

hunger + corn

A recent economics paper suggests strongly that biofuels have raised food prices for the world's poor.

Berkeley economist Brian Wright has a disquieting article in the Winter 2014 issues of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, which just crossed my desk.  JEP is published by the American Economic Association and is a great resource for those of us who are interested in economics but aren’t professional economists.  This article is a case in […]

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Justice Roberts Should Welcome EPA’s Proposed New Wetlands Rule

For Display Use Only, No Permission to Reproduce in Any Form

The Environmental Protection Agency today issued a proposed new rule that seeks to clarify exactly how far the federal government’s jurisdiction reaches in requiring permits for the dredging and filling of wetlands.  In doing so, President Obama’s EPA is responding directly to Chief Justice John Roberts’ lament in his concurring opinion in Rapanos v. United […]

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Rand Paul versus Clean Water

330px-Rand_Paul,_official_portrait,_112th_Congress_alternate

Rand Paul's plan to cut wetlands protection and make enforcement against polluters impossible.

Rand Paul recently won a big victory in the straw poll held by CPAC,the Conservative Political Action Conference.  In the environmental area, his signature measure is the Defense of Environment and Property Act. On its surface, the goal of the law is to cut back on federal jurisdiction over wetlands. The bill would drastically cut back […]

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U.S. Supreme Court Deals Blow to National Rails-to-Trails Movement

rails2trails

Justices Hand Property Owners Another Important Win, With Public Access the Loser

Some U.S. Supreme Court decisions blow through American jurisprudence like a hurricane. Others slip into the law books quietly, like the proverbial cat’s paws. Today’s Court decision in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States falls into the latter category: largely overlooked by Court followers and the media, but with the potential to have […]

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California Enacts Emergency Drought Legislation

State Water Rights Reforms a Key Part of the Legislative Package

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This adage, attributed to Chicago Mayor and former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, seems especially apt regarding emergency legislation enacted by California lawmakers and signed into law last weekend by Governor Jerry Brown in response to the worst drought in recorded California history. That […]

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Deconstructing Today’s U.S. Supreme Court Arguments in Utility Air Regulatory Group

scotus

The EPA Could Well Lose This Challenge to Its Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the most important environmental law case of the current Term: Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency. Based on those arguments–and, more importantly, the justices’ questions and comments–it appears that EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act’s […]

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