Politics

The Truth About Environmental Originalism

Scott Pruitt advocates environmental originalism. It means the direct opposite of what he thinks.

Scott Pruitt has taken to talking about environmental originalism – going back to the original intent of our environmental laws. But he’s got the original intent completely backwards. The statutes weren’t intended to protect jobs or grow the economy. They were intended to protect the environment, with cost at best a secondary consideration. This is exactly […]

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When Trump’s Name is Forgotten, His Carbon Will Remain

Much of the carbon from his policies will remain in the atmosphere for centuries.

Given Trump’s desire to increase the use of fossil fuels, it’s no surprise that his presidency will result in increased carbon emissions.  Some of the carbon will remain in the atmosphere for centuries, an enduring monument to his presidency and his rejection of scientific facts. Before the election, I took a stab at estimating that impact, based […]

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National Monuments Update

Interior Department releases interim report, recommends changes to Bears Ears National Monument

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released his interim report yesterday on Bears Ears National Monument, recommending that President Trump re-draw the monument’s boundaries. Secretary Zinke’s report misreads both the Antiquities Act and President Obama’s 2016 Proclamation that created Bears Ears National Monument, and any move by President Trump to downsize the monument without an act of Congress […]

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The Dangerous Politics of Nostalgia

It’s a good idea to look in the direction you’re traveling, not backwards to your past.

In an airport, I recently saw a sign above the moving walkway advising us to face in the direction we were traveling.  That’s sound advice for life in general and policy making in particular.  It’s a recipe for failure to try to restore the past rather than looking toward the future.  Unfortunately, rather than embracing the future, […]

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California Members of Congress Seek to Eviscerate State Water & Environmental Laws

H.R. 23 Would Preempt California State Water Law & Supersede Federal, State Environmental Statutes

Quite understandably, the attention of the media, environmental organizations and the general public has been focused on the myriad misadventures of the Trump Administration, now rumbling and stumbling through its fifth month.  And, as recounted on Legal Planet since mid-January, those contretemps include a great deal of environmental mischief emanating from the Executive Branch. But it […]

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Vox Populi and the Environment

Is Trump’s attack on environmental law riding a groundswell of public opinion? Apparently not.

Trump is pushing hard to rollback Obama’s climate change regulations, expand the use of fossil fuels, and discourage renewables.  Where does the public stand on all this?  The answer is that the public is mostly on the other side, but more needs to be done to heighten public awareness. A recent survey conducted jointly by […]

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Trump’s Radical Anti-Environmentalism

Trump’s target isn’t just Obama. His rejection of environmental protection goes much deeper.

We often hear about the Trump Administrations’s plans to “roll back Obama’s regulations.” But the Administration’s goals go much deeper. Hyperbole is always a risk when discussing opposing policy views, but to call this Administration a profound threat to environmental regulation is only to echo their own words. When he announced the executive order directing EPA to […]

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Why Trump’s Faux Withdrawal and Reality TV Announcement May Backfire

Opponents are Galvanized

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement may have dramatic consequences for his administration – but not in the way he might imagine. His announcement is toothless. The U.S can’t withdraw from the Paris Agreement until the next Presidential election (assuming he makes it to the end). Yet […]

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Beyond Cap-and-Trade and Carbon Taxes

The idea of putting a price on carbon has popped up in unexpected ways.

Conventionally, carbon pricing takes place when the government either creates a cap-and-trade scheme or a carbon tax.  But we’ve begun to see carbon prices popping up in other interesting ways.  The idea of putting a price on carbon seems to have influence well outside of the classic tax-or-trade models. For instance, carbon pricing has moved beyond […]

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Slowly and Grudgingly, Change is Coming to Coal Country

Coal is slowly fading from the power mix, even in Mitch McConnell country,

A sign of the times: Fox News has reported, without comment, that the Kentucky Coal Museum is installing solar panels to save money. This is part of a larger trend. On Saturday, the NY Times reported on shifts in power production in states like West Virginia and Kentucky. For instance, Appalachian Power has “closed three […]

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