Regulatory Policy

Major Settlement Announced in Volkswagen Emissions Fraud Litigation

$14.7 Billion Civil Enforcement Settlement is a Victory for Consumers, Environmental Prosecutors

Federal and state environmental prosecutors today announced a proposed settlement of government civil enforcement litigation they’ve pursued against Volkswagen in response to the automaker’s acknowledged efforts to cheat federal and state auto emission standards and defraud consumers.  The complex settlement, lodged with the assigned U.S. district court judge in San Francisco, requires Volkswagen to pay […]

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Barry Goldwater, Environmentalist

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Goldwater was passionate about saving the planet.

Barry Goldwater’s views on the environment didn’t have much in common with those of the present-day conservatives who are his ideological descendants.  His 1970 book, The Conscience of a Majority, has half a chapter about the environment.  “Our job,” he said, “is to prevent that lush orb known as the Earth . . . from […]

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The End-game for Diablo Canyon?

Diablo Canyon

A landmark agreement supports the closure of a controversial nuclear plant.

Today’s announcement that the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) has reached an agreement with several environmental and labor groups to plan for the eventual shutdown of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant is a stunning development, when viewed in an historical perspective. PG&E has agreed not to seek new licenses for its power plant that […]

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The Road to Improved Compliance

Enforcement of environmental laws is spotty. But there are ways to change that.I

As I wrote earlier this week, environmental enforcement is not nearly as effective as it should be.  EPA and others have been working on finding creative ways of obtaining compliance, often with the help of new technology. One aspect of enforcement that has become clear is the need to focus on small, dispersed sources that may […]

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Strong Regs, Spotty Enforcement

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Environmental enforcement could use a big boost.

The political debate over regulation tends to focus on the regulations themselves. But enforcing the regulations is just as important. Despite what you might think from the howls of business groups and conservative commentators, the enforcement system is not nearly as strong as it should be. Twenty years after passage of the Clean Water Act, roughly […]

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The Economic Impact of AB 32 on California

New study suggests that the economic impact of cutting carbon is modest.

What is the economic impact of California’s climate change regulations? Will they reduce actual emissions or just shift them out-of-state? A new study by Resources for the Future addresses an important part of the puzzle. Reasearchers at RFF modeled the effect of compliance costs of $10/ton or $22/ton of CO2 on highly energy-intensive industries such as […]

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Is Protecting Public Health Now a Partisan Issue?

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Congress's failure to deal with the Zika threat is a symptom of a bigger problem.

Congress seems to be unable to come up with funding for an effort to combat the zika virus.  Instead, congressional leaders told the government to use existing funding, so it has been forced to divert hundreds of millions of dollars from fighting ebola. (You remember that Congress was completely frenzied about the risk of ebola in […]

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A Floor Price for Gasoline

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A floor price would encourage energy efficient cars and generate revenue.

The price of gasoline fluctuates like crazy, tracking the price of oil.  In a recent blog post and an earlier paper, my colleagues at the business school have put forward a really innovative proposal: a minimum price for gasoline.  When oil costs go below a certain level, gas prices would stay stuck at that point. […]

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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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