Politics

The Missing of Summer Lawns*

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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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A New Low for Fictional News Network

Guess which cable news network misleads on climate?

Well, what a shock: To gauge how accurately [cable news] networks inform their audiences about climate change, the Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed the networks’ climate science coverage in 2013 and found that each network treated climate science very differently. Fox News was the least accurate; 72 percent of its 2013 climate science-related segments contained […]

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Sea Level Rises, Premiums Not So Much

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Congress apparently just couldn't resist restoring subsidies for coastal homeowners.

The President has now signed an important modification of the flood insurance program.  The changes are hard to understand, in part because the bill changed an earlier 2013 law that itself amended the basic statute.  So you have to work through the whole sequence to see what is going on. Before I go into more […]

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The Perils of Rail Transit and Democracy

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How Decentralized Decision-Making Can Screw Up Rail Planning and Implementation

Americans seem to love democracy but hate many of the results. We want governmental power to be decentralized, whether it’s across three federal branches or with local control over sometimes regionally oriented land use decisions. But when the inevitable compromise that is required to get majority approval means a less-than-perfect result, from Obamacare to budget […]

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Rand Paul versus Clean Water

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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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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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George Will and Conservative Climate Denial

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The three types of conservatism all tend to reject climate science, but for different reasons.

A couple of weeks ago, George Will told the Fox News audience that humans have nothing to do with climate change — it’s just natural fluctuations.  Will himself has changed his brand of conservatism in the past few years, as the New Republic has noted.  At this point, he has sampled two of the three […]

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Railtown — A Different LA Story

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Railtown tells the story of how rail transit came to

Ethan Elkind‘s new book, Railtown, tells the story of LA’s rail system.  It’s a fascinating account of LA’s move away from an almost religious attachment to the automobile.  The LA story has some important implications for other cities. It took several decades to get the current rail system built.  There were many detours and delays […]

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Previewing Next Week’s Climate Change Arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court

Big Stakes and Big Players in This Year's Biggest Environmental Case

On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the biggest environmental law case of its current Term, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA. Legal Planet colleagues Ann Carlson and Dan Farber have already posted their thoughts on the case. Let me add mine. Utility Air Regulatory Group involves EPA’s authority to regulate stationary […]

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Would Californians be Better Off with a Fuel Tax instead of Cap-and-Trade?

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Steinberg's surprising proposal for California climate regulation

Climate regulation drama!  Sen. Darrell Steinberg is floating a proposal that would change California law to take transportation fuels out of the cap-and-trade program, and to enact a new fuels tax instead.  As background, distributors of those fuels are slated to join the cap-and-trade program in 2015, meaning they would need allowances to cover their […]

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