Regulatory Policy

“Necessary and Appropriate”


EPA has now formally proposed its response to the Supreme Court's opinion in Michigan v. EPA

Although the Paris talks are justifiably getting the lion’s share of the attention, there have been other significant environmental actions recently. One of those involves the EPA’s effort to reduce toxic emissions from power plants (particularly coal-fired plants). The Clean Air Act gives special treatment to toxic emissions from power plants. Other sources are regulated […]

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Mr. Smith’s War Against Science

lamar smith

Further harassment of climate scientists from the House Science Committee.

Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, doesn’t believe in climate change.  Still, by current political standards, I guess we should be glad that he hasn’t accused them of cheering when the Twin Towers fell, as his party’s leading contender for the Presidency did to what he called “thousands […]

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You Have the Right to Generate Your Own Electricity

Rooftop Solar

Preserving an implicit right in the face of electric utility resistance

Do people have the right to generate electricity for their own use and still remain connected to the grid? Of course they do. You see it every day. Without prior registration or a background check, anyone can go into a hardware store and buy a diesel generator. Homeowners and businesses can install rooftop solar photovoltaics […]

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What Economists Don’t Get About Our Relationship With Nature

No, climate change isn't less of a problem if people get used to a devastated world.

People often adjust to problems that seem terrible upfront.  Some studies show, for instance, that people who who lose limbs are very unhappy for awhile but then start to adjust to their positions.  Some economists argue that something similar may happen with climate change — we might find that we don’t miss extinct animals or […]

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The Mexican Energy Revolution


After decades of state control, Mexico opens its energy sector

November 20th is Revolution Day in Mexico – a national holiday celebrating the end of its ten year uprising against the dictator Porfirio Diaz. Also this month, Mexico will begin accepting bids on up to 6 million certificates for renewable energy, hoping to add up to 2,500 megawatts of clean electricity to its energy mix. […]

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Dueling California Drought Relief Bills Debated on Capitol Hill

Dry fields and bare trees at Panoche Road, looking west, on Wednesday February 5, 2014, near San Joaquin, CA.  (California WaterBlog)

Stark Differences Emerge Between Competing House and Senate Bills

What can and should the federal government do to assist the State of California in weathering the worst drought in recorded state history? While the U.S. House of Representatives is embroiled in a chaotic political debate over selection of a new House Speaker, the more deliberate consideration of new legislation continues apace in the Senate. […]

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DuPont Found Liable In First of 3,500 Lawsuits


Chemical Used in Teflon Linked to Numerous Health Problems, but its Use is Still Legal Under TSCA

Yesterday, a jury in the Southern District of Ohio found DuPont liable for a woman’s kidney cancer in the first of 3,500 suits the company faces. The cases all stem from DuPont’s use and disposal of perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA) or C8. The chemical is used to make Teflon, among other things, and the most recent […]

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Lost in the Ozone Again

The Ozone Standard, Regulatory Pragmatism, and the Rule of Law

  EPA issued a new regulation last week that mandates a reduction in ozone levels to 70 ppm from the current 75 ppm (originally set by the Bush Administration). The new regulation was immediately attacked by industry and environmentalists. According to industry, the regulation will be a job-killing burden on the economy. According to environmentalists, […]

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Is CCS the “best” system of emission reduction for coal-fired power plants?


Exploring Potential Challenges to EPA’s New Source Performance Standard: PART II

This post is the second in a mini-series (see first post) exploring likely legal challenges to the New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) for power-plant greenhouse gas emissions under Clean Air Act § 111(b), and how those challenges might affect the Clean Power Plan. In my first post on EPA’s New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) for […]

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Environmental Law as a Three-Legged Stool


Ad. Law provides the process and institutions, while Torts and Property concepts underly the substance.

Environmental law is a formidable tangle of long, complicated statutes and sometimes arcane judicial doctrines.  But underneath all that, I’d like to suggest, there’s a very simple structure, rooted in legal basics. The procedural and structural framework for environmental law is provided by administrative law, supplemented in a few areas like Superfund by ordinary civil […]

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