Is 2025 the Year of the Carbon Tax?

Carbon border adjustment mechanisms are increasingly the talk of Washington. UCLA Law’s Kimberly Clausing explains some of the options on the table.

There’s a big, important tax debate looming next year—one with opportunities and risks for climate policy, particularly the idea of a carbon tax. It can be hard to see this debate thanks to the daily churn of the 2024 presidential election, but it’s there on the horizon if you squint. For one thing, we’ll likely close out this year as the new “hottest year on record” just before the next President of the United States takes office. Then by the end of 2025...

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Renewable Energy: A Timeline

Today’s wind and solar resources didn’t come out of nowhere.

The first efforts to use of wind to generate electricity was 134 years ago, and the photoelectric effect was discovered six decades earlier. So in a sense, these are old technologies — about the same age as the very first internal combustion engines. But the scientific and technological advances that made these technologies competitive with fossil fuels are much more recent.  One thing you’ll notice is the importance of government-funded research and deployment ince...

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Understanding Loper: A Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing?

The real world effects may be limited. Or they may undercut presidential power, to the surprise of advocates of the unitary executive.

This post is the last in a weeklong series on the Supreme Court's ruling in the Loper Bright case. The ruling caused much rejoicing among conservatives who foretold the death of the administrative state. Among liberals, there was much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. No one focused on the nuanced doctrine that the Court created to replace Chevron. In this week's blog posts, I have argued that the legal effect of the decision is likely to be incremental rath...

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Understanding Loper: The Grandfather Clause

Hundreds of past federal cases relied on Chevron. They remain good law.

To cushion the shock of abandoning Chevron, the Supreme Court created a safe harbor for past judicial decisions. This was well-advised. The Court itself applied Chevron at least seventy times, as did thousands of lower court decisions. The key question will be the scope of the grandfather clause. The Court’s discussion began by saying that “we do not call into question prior cases that relied on the Chevron framework.”  Thus, “the holdings of those cases that...

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Understanding Loper: The Primacy of Skidmore

A previously obscure 1944 case will now be central to judicial review.

One thing about the Loper Bright decision is obvious: it overruled Chevron.  So much for past law. What about the future? How should courts review agency regulations now that Chevron is gone?  As I discuss in a later post, regulations that were upheld by the courts during the Chevron era have some protection, but new regulations will be fully subject to Loper rather than Chevron. The  general refrain in the Loper opinion is “Skidmore deference." What does that mea...

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$10 Billion Climate Bond Heads to the California Ballot

Prop 4 would authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $10 billion toward safe drinking water and groundwater, wildfire and forest programs, and to combat sea level rise.

After much anticipation and deliberation, the California legislature approved a $10 billion climate bond measure just before the summer recess began on July 3, 2024. California voters will now have the opportunity to approve or reject the bond measure on the November ballot. The bond measure will now be referred to as Proposition 4 on the upcoming ballot, but it began as SB 867, the Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparedness, and Clean Air Bond Act...

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Understanding Loper: Delegation & Discretion

Something similar to Chevron deference may still apply to many (most?) regulations.

One thing about the Loper Bright decision is obvious: it overruled Chevron.  So much for past law. What about the future.? How should courts review agency regulations now that Chevron is gone? As I discuss in a later post, regulations that were upheld by the courts during the Chevron era have some protection, but new regulations will be fully subject to Loper rather than Chevron. This post tackles a key paragraph in the Loper opinion where the Court discusses congr...

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Playing fast and loose with reality

How the US Supreme Court's recent decisions enable greater reliance on "alternative" facts

As the U.S. Supreme Court has moved into an era of second-guessing federal administrative agencies to an extent that we have not seen in 80 years, it has delivered yet another blow to reliance on accurate facts. When I served as an administrative law judge for California’s state utility regulators, my job in each proceeding was to develop a clear and complete factual record to guide the agency’s ultimate decision. My recommended outcome had to be based entirely on...

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(Energy) Independence Day

A post in which I surprise readers -- and myself -- with strong praise for George W. Bush.

Four years ago, President Trump announced that “with the tremendous progress we have made over the past three years, America is now energy independent.” And he was right that the U.S. had reached the point that it produced more energy than it used.  But the kind of energy independence he trumpeted (or should I have said TRUMPeted?) is a chimera. Admittedly, Trump was not the first to prioritize this kind “energy independence.”  (Nor has he been the last to a...

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California can help meet its climate goals by removing SERP’s sunset date

By Molly Bruce, Dave Smith, Michael Kiparsky, Derek Hitchcock, Peter Van De Burgt, Sydney Chamberlin, Megan Cleveland

Many regulatory clearances like permits aim to guard against projects that pose harm to the environment. However, permitting can also undercut environmental restoration efforts. While restoration is designed to remedy environmental harms and improve resilience to climate change, permitting can substantially increase project costs and slow or altogether impede environmentally beneficial projects. Striking an effective balance between an appropriate level of regulatory ove...

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