Regulatory Policy

A Victory for Clean Air

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The D.C. Circuit has upheld EPA's regulation of mercury from coal-fired plants. We can all breath easier as a result.

EPA won an important victory in the D.C. Circuit today.  In White Stallion Energy Center v. EPA, the court upheld EPA’s new regulations limiting mercury from coal-fired power plants.  The main issue in the case was about a threshold requirement for regulation.  Before setting limits on mercury from coal plants, EPA had to consider studies of […]

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The Missing of Summer Lawns*

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It's Time to End the Wasteful Practice of Irrigating California's Residential Landscaping With Fresh Water

What a difference a drought makes. Once upon a time, a fundamental attribute of home ownership in California and the American West was an expansive, verdant lawn surrounding private homes, townhouses and apartment complexes. Indeed, some communities have historically imposed permit conditions or adopted local ordinances mandating the inclusion and maintenance of lush, healthy lawns […]

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Will Regulatory Takings Always Be A Mess?

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Takings law is a legal quagmire. It's likely to stay that way.

I recently reread an article that my late colleague Joe Sax published exactly fifty years ago.  It’s a striking piece of scholarship, all the more impressive so early in his career. But one particular statement made a particular impression on me: “Nevertheless, the predominant characteristic of this area of law is a welter of confusing […]

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As Oil by Rail Gains Momentum, Is California On Track to Protect Human Health and the Environment?

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A closer look at the data and key legal issues

California will soon see a surge in the number of trains carrying crude oil into the state, as oil production in North Dakota’s Bakken region and Canada continues to increase, sending more crude to California refineries. Last week, the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the safety of […]

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Biofuels and Food Prices

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A recent economics paper suggests strongly that biofuels have raised food prices for the world's poor.

Berkeley economist Brian Wright has a disquieting article in the Winter 2014 issues of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, which just crossed my desk.  JEP is published by the American Economic Association and is a great resource for those of us who are interested in economics but aren’t professional economists.  This article is a case in […]

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Justice Roberts Should Welcome EPA’s Proposed New Wetlands Rule

For Display Use Only, No Permission to Reproduce in Any Form

The Environmental Protection Agency today issued a proposed new rule that seeks to clarify exactly how far the federal government’s jurisdiction reaches in requiring permits for the dredging and filling of wetlands.  In doing so, President Obama’s EPA is responding directly to Chief Justice John Roberts’ lament in his concurring opinion in Rapanos v. United […]

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The Perils of Rail Transit and Democracy

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How Decentralized Decision-Making Can Screw Up Rail Planning and Implementation

Americans seem to love democracy but hate many of the results. We want governmental power to be decentralized, whether it’s across three federal branches or with local control over sometimes regionally oriented land use decisions. But when the inevitable compromise that is required to get majority approval means a less-than-perfect result, from Obamacare to budget […]

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U.S. Supreme Court Deals Blow to National Rails-to-Trails Movement

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Justices Hand Property Owners Another Important Win, With Public Access the Loser

Some U.S. Supreme Court decisions blow through American jurisprudence like a hurricane. Others slip into the law books quietly, like the proverbial cat’s paws. Today’s Court decision in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States falls into the latter category: largely overlooked by Court followers and the media, but with the potential to have […]

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The Lost World of Administrative Law

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The regulatory process has become more opaque and less accountable. We need to fix that.

Every year, thousands of law students take a course in administrative law.  It’s a great course, and we wish even more students took it.  But there’s a risk that students may come away with a vision of the regulatory process that is increasingly disconnected with reality.  Worse, the leading judicial opinions on the subject suggest […]

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California Enacts Emergency Drought Legislation

State Water Rights Reforms a Key Part of the Legislative Package

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This adage, attributed to Chicago Mayor and former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, seems especially apt regarding emergency legislation enacted by California lawmakers and signed into law last weekend by Governor Jerry Brown in response to the worst drought in recorded California history. That […]

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