Pollution & Health

Should California Recover More Energy From Municipal Solid Waste?

Wasting Opportunities Cover

New Berkeley Law report explores policy options, with KALW radio show discussion tonight at 7pm

Every year, Californians send about 30 million tons of trash to landfills. While the state’s residents do their part to reduce, reuse and recycle, that’s still a whole lot of garbage. It’s not only a land use issue, it’s a climate change issue: as landfill waste decays, it emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Many […]

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Of sewage spills and citizen suits

A sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) spills out from beneath a manhole cover.  Photo: Mystic River Watershed Association, “Sewer overflowing,” www.flickr.com/photos/44914436@
N07/4438382741/.

New Berkeley Law report examines citizen actions addressing sanitary sewer overflows in California

(This post is co-authored with Nell Green Nylen and Michael Kiparsky.) Every day, Californians produce millions of gallons of wastewater. We tend to avoid thinking about what flows down our drains, but how we deal with sewage is a critically important aspect of public and environmental health. Most communities in California rely on an extensive […]

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Former Massey Energy CEO Sentenced to Prison for Actions Leading to 2010 Coal Mine Disaster

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What Broader Environmental and Worker Safety Enforcement Lessons Can Be Learned Here?

A federal district judge on Wednesday sentenced Don Blankenship, the former Chief Executive of Massey Energy, to serve one year in federal prison–the maximum term allowed by law–and to personally pay a criminal penalty of $250,000 for Blankenship’s acts of omission and commission that led to the notorious 2010 coal mining disaster at Massey’s Upper […]

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UCLA Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Electric Grid Experts in “Clean Power Plan” Case

U.S. Dep't of Energy

Supporting EPA’s regulation of power-sector carbon emissions

Today, several of us at UCLA Law School’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment—me, Cara Horowitz, Sarah Duffy, & Ann Carlson—together with Professor William Boyd of University of Colorado Law School, filed an amici curiae brief on behalf of five electric grid experts in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” […]

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Trump vs. EPA

Donald Trump

To combat the anti-environmentalism of his base, we need to stress public health issues.

Donald Trump wants to abolish EPA and leave environmental regulation to the states.  Given that many environmental problems cross state lines, it’s not clear how he thinks this would work.  But never mind that.  A more immediate problems is understanding why this position may appeal to his core voters. For candidates like Cruz, it’s not hard […]

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The Supreme Court Vacancy and EPA’s Mercury Rule

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The rule limiting toxic pollution from coal plants now has a rosier future.

Among the many ramifications of the current vacancy on the bench, its effect on the EPA’s mercury rule seems to have escaped much attention.  It may already have helped EPA defeat an effort by states to get a stay from Chief Justice Roberts.  But it has much broader significance. Some background: The Supreme Court, in a […]

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Another California Regulatory Agency in Crisis: Southern California’s Air Quality Management District Fires Longtime Executive Officer

Barry Wallerstein's Ouster from SCAQMD Signals Tilt Away from Protection of Public Health

In a move that shocked the environmental advocacy community and low-income communities of color that suffer most from the impacts of poor air quality in Los Angeles, the governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District fired its longtime executive officer Barry Wallerstein today, voting 7-6 in closed session to remove him from […]

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Lessons From Flint

Flint water

A public-minded researcher discovers serious contamination of drinking water. His efforts to alert local officials are rebuffed. Concerned over how this will affect their reputation and the town’s economy, the authorities sit on the evidence and deny any problems. All the while, trusting people continue to drink unsafe water. While the setting may call to […]

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The Tricky Problem of Cumulative Exposures

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A new UCLA report finds reason to be concerned about cumulative risk, and notes that under CA law regulators are required to act

We are all exposed to hundreds, if not thousands of chemicals through consumer products, air pollution, drinking water, and occupational exposures, just to name a few.  Yet chemicals and pollutants are largely assessed and regulated individually.  Increasingly, environmental health professionals have been attempting to grapple with assessing the risk of exposure to multiple chemicals. New […]

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Public Prosecutors Zero In on SoCal Gas, Porter Ranch Disaster

Aliso Canyon

California Attorney General, L.A. District Attorney File New Enforcement Prosecutions

The massive leak from Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon natural gas field in northwestern Los Angeles County was discovered on October 23rd of last year and, more than three months later, shows no sign of abating.  Public prosecutors have pretty clearly lost patience with SoCal gas and its ineffective remediation efforts to date.  This […]

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