Public Lands

Searching for Votes in the Senate

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Q: Can the Dems scrounge up the votes to block anti-environment actions? A: Maybe.

Paul Ryan and Donald Trump have vowed to roll back many environmental protections.  The Senate seems to be the one barrier against anti-environmental moves by Congress.  How strong is that barrier? The answer depends in part on whether the filibuster option remains open. If the filibuster rule remains intact, the Democrats’ 48 votes in the Senate […]

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Something Else to Be Thankful For — Inertia!

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Meet your new best friend: gridlock, litigation delays, and red tape.

Inertia isn’t something we think about very often. Still less often is it something we feel grateful for. But it’s what prevents us from being tossed around by every passing wind. At this precise moment, that’s something we should hold precious. It’s ironic that environmentalists should now be grateful for all the features that hold […]

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What Will Trump Do? Maybe Not What We Expect.

Donald Trump

If he cares about 2020, he’ll have to do some recalibrating.

To be honest, no one really knows what Trump will do. Maybe not even Trump. The obvious is often the safest best. In this post, I’m going to speculate about another, slightly less dire, possibility. He may take the most obvious path – which would mean ripping the heart out of our environmental laws. For instance, he […]

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What Does a Trump Presidency Portend for California’s Environmental Policies?

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Constitutional Issues Loom Large in Future, Likely Federal-California Legal Confrontations

Sensing political storm clouds ahead, California Governor Jerry Brown yesterday issued a statement on the presidential election results that concludes: “We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our time–devastating climate change.” Several of my Legal Planet colleagues have recently posted thoughtful commentary on what Donald Trump’s […]

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Obama’s Remarkable Environmental Achievements

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When you look at the whole of his legacy, it’s a stunning record.

When he leaves office in January, President Obama will have compiled a remarkable record of environmental achievements. The record spans everything from climate change to endangered species and ocean protection. We can only hope that next Tuesday’s election doesn’t undo many of these gains. Here is a list, in no particular order, of twenty of […]

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A Century of Bipartisan Effort

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Over 110 years, Presidents of both parties have worked to save national monuments.

Let’s take a break from the bitter partisan warfare and celebrate a bipartisan triumph: preserving numerous national monuments by presidents of both parties. This effort includes creation of 1.6 million square miles of marine preserves by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. It’s impressive just how many of our Presidents have been involved in […]

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The Steadily-Dying Sierra Nevadas

Dying trees pepper the Yosemite landscape.

Drought, Bark Beetle Infestation, Climate Change Imperil Sierra Pine Forests

Like over 600 other environmental lawyers, professors, law students and regulators, I attended the 25th annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite last weekend.  As always, the Conference–sponsored by the California State Bar’s Environmental Law Section–was a big success, filled with inspirational speakers and thought-provoking panels. But the major topic of conversation–during the Conference proceedings, in […]

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State regulation of environmental harms on federal lands

California Supreme Court case indicates substantial authority for states to act

Sean has already reported on the recent Rinehart decision by the California Supreme Court, in which the Court concluded that a state law imposing a temporary moratorium on the use of suction dredge equipment in California waterways was not preempted by federal mining law.  Here, I just want to add to Sean’s excellent summary by […]

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Obama’s Public Lands Conservation Legacy

Progress, but still much more to do

President Obama has gotten some high praise lately from the New York Times editorial board, and this op-ed from Prof. David Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice noted for his biography of President Theodore Roosevelt.  Brinkley compares Obama favorably to Teddy Roosevelt for his conservation legacy. The specific recent actions by President Obama that prompted […]

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Bikes in Wilderness

A misguided proposal in Congress

This New York Times article notes that a bill (S. 3205) is pending in Congress to allow mountain bikes in federally-designated wilderness areas.  In short, the bill is a terrible idea. First, on the merits, allowing mountain bikes into wilderness areas has the potential for significant impacts both on other humans using wilderness, and on […]

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