Pollution & Health

Michigan v. EPA: Policymaking in the Guise of Statutory Interpretation

Same to you, buddy

In Michigan v. EPA, the majority followed its own policy views, not those in the statute.

The majority opinion by Justice Scalia has gotten most of the attention.  Most notably, he wrote that “[o]ne would not say that it is even rational, never mind “appropriate”, to impose billions of dollars in economic costs for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.”  Indeed, “[n]o regulation is ‘appropriate’ if it does significantly […]

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Interpreting Michigan v. EPA

Four Corners Coal Plant

The opinion seems likely to have very limited repercussions.

In bringing the mercury rule to the Supreme Court, industry was hoping for a ruling that EPA had to balance costs and benefits (and could only include benefits relating to mercury).  What they got was far less than that.  Here, I’d like to address some key questions about the opinion. 1.  When does EPA have […]

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Mercury Rising: The Court Reverses EPA’s Regulation

supreme-court

This was not a great decision for EPA, but it could have been much worse.

The Court has just now decided the Michigan case, involving EPA’s mercury regulation.  As Ann Carlson explained in an earlier post, a lot was at stake in the case.  The Court ruled 5-4 against EPA.  This passage seems to be key to the Court’s reasoning: One would not say that it is even rational, never mind […]

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Clean Air versus States Rights

constitution

A sleeper decision by the D.C. Circuit upholds federal air pollution authority.

The D.C. Circuit’s decision last week in Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality v. EPA didn’t get a lot of attention, despite having a very significant constitutional ruling.  Since the constitutional discussion doesn’t start until about page seventy, after many pages of scintillating discussion of matters like the reliability of private air pollution monitors and the […]

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Legal Responses to the Santa Barbara Refugio Oil Spill

Refugio_Oil_Spill_in_Santa_Barbara

Exploring potential penalties and damages

Last Tuesday, a 24-inch underground oil pipeline on the beautiful Santa Barbara County coastline burst for reasons as of yet unknown. Over the course of several hours, an estimated 101,000 gallons of crude oil spilled down a storm drain, on the shoreline, and into the Pacific Ocean. As of late last week, oil had spread […]

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Climate Fatigue

You might be tired of climate change. But climate change isn't tired of you.

I gather that people are tired of hearing about climate change.  I’m tired of hearing about climate change, too. Sadly, Nature just doesn’t care  that much about entertaining us.  It’s going to be climate change this year, climate change next year, climate change the year after that . . . But don’t worry, it won’t […]

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Los Angeles Releases First-Ever Urban Sustainability “pLAn”

pLAn

Envisioning greener energy, cleaner air, and reduced consumption in LA by 2035

Perhaps no metropolis is better positioned than Los Angeles to pioneer ground-breaking environmental initiatives. As the second-largest U.S. city, and with the country’s largest municipally owned utility, a world-class research university–UCLA, and the blessings of abundant sunshine and a temperate Mediterranean climate, Los Angeles could serve as a global model for urban sustainability. Today, the […]

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The Unreasonable Risk of TSCA Reform

Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is no doubt generating significant conflict, including claims of undue industry influence, competing bills from prominent members of the same party, consternation among states, and divisions among health and environmental groups.  And it may also be the closest we have gotten to TSCA reform—ever.  […]

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Do the Poor Undervalue the Environment?

Untreated Monsoon Sewage in India: Does Anybody Care?

The Emerging Sub-Field of "Envirodevonomics" Seeks to Find Out

It’s hardly news that environmental quality in the Global South is often disastrous. Even middle income countries such as China and India face enormous pollution problems and destruction of ecosystems. But why? Do people in the Global South not care? Or is something else going on? A new paper in the Journal of Economic Literature […]

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TSCA Reform: That’s A Good Thing, Right?

Reform of the federal chemicals statute, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is in the news again.  It got me wondering, are we are better off with the devil we know? In a legislative era characterized by harsh partisanship and excruciating deadlocks, there are signs that TSCA reform could be a rare example of cooperation […]

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