General

Climate Change is the new He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

And Scott Pruitt is the new High Inquisitor at EPA

Last week, after saying that he did not believe that carbon dioxide is the primary cause of climate change, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reminded me for the second time since he took office of someone I met at age fifteen: Dolores Umbridge. Yes, that Dolores Umbridge, the one that functions as the main villain of the […]

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The Trump Administration’s False Stories About the Environmental Protection Agency Are Meant to Take the Agency Down

Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt Distort the Facts About EPA’s Mission, History, and Success

The Trump Administration has made clear its plans to systematically dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency.  Destroying the EPA will be a key element of the administration’s fight, in the words of White House policy advisor Steve Bannon, to achieve the “deconstruction of the administrative state.”  Republicans in Congress appear to support this effort.  EPA Administrator Scott […]

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Pruitt Shows His True Colors

Still skeptical of climate science, EPA’s regulatory authority, and the Paris Agreement.

Pruitt made conciliatory noises when he arrived at EPA. I suspect the honeymoon is over. On Thursday, he was asked on CNBC whether CO2 is the main cause of climate change.  His answer? ““I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about […]

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The Car Industry’s Rollback Effort — Disappointing But Not Surprising

The struggle to force the car industry to cut pollution goes back six decades.

The car industry is appealing for President Trump’s help against stricter carbon standards for cars. The industry’s action is disappointing for those who believed industry claims to embrace sustainability and technological innovation. There’s no good excuse for the industry’s about-face on a regulation it had originally agreed to.  As one of the architects of the […]

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“States’ Rights” and Environmental Law: California on the Front Lines

EPA’s Assault on Air Quality Protection Will Aim at California’s Standards, While Other States Have Given Up Their Authority to Protect Public Health and the Environment More Strictly

This article just published in the Atlantic explains well one of the many ways that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may attempt to deeply harm our environment for decades to come: through declining to grant, or revoking, the waivers that allow California to regulate air pollution from new motor vehicle engines more strictly than the federal government does. […]

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About that carbon tax idea….

Eric Biber posted last week about the proposal from several heavyweight Republicans for a carbon tax, outlined in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Much has been said about the merits and problems of a carbon tax, including on this blog, so I will try not to repeat those points here. However, I wanted to expand […]

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Is Texas Cleaning Up Its Act?

Carbon emissions are set in decline in Texas, with less coal and more renewables.

At a national meeting of state utility regulators, the head of the group recently said that the Clean Power Plan was basically dead, BUT this might not matter because “arguably, you’re seeing market-based decarbonization” due to technological changes.  Case in point: Texas. Market trends are pushing Republican-stronghold Texas toward a cleaner grid. ERCOT, which operates nearly all […]

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Making America Great Again for Dirty Energy

Connecting the Dots on Congressional Action, Trump Appointments

It is hard to imagine a better start to a Presidential Administration for the fossil fuel industry than this one.  Three of Trump’s appointees to cabinet positions — Scott Pruitt as Administrator of  the Environmental Protection Agency, Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy and Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State — are deeply intertwined with […]

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If At First You’re Blocked by Congress, Try, Try Again.

How much does the Congressional Review Act preclude follow-up regulation?

Most people probably never heard of the Congressional Review Act before now.  This law — “CRA” to Beltway folks — is an obscure statute — previously used only once — that allows Congress to strike down an agency rule with an expedited procedure (no filibuster). The GOP is gleefully taking advantage of its control of the […]

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How States Can Defend Themselves Against Trump

States have a number of tools for protecting their own environments from the Feds.

Suppose the Trump Administration launches environmentally harmful projects in a state or wants to allow more pollution there than the state wants.  Does the state have any possible recourse? The answer is yes, although states’s defenses have their limitations.  There are a number of mechanisms states can use to defend their own environments, if not the […]

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