New Report: Scoping the Public Health Impacts of Wildfire

A primer for stakeholders interested in the intersections of wildland fire and public health.

Wildfire smoke presents a population-wide health risk in California. Catastrophic wildfires are fueling complex and extensive public health impacts, including air pollution-related mortality and a growing toll on mental health. These risks result in hundreds of millions of dollars in estimated losses and carry stark environmental justice implications for vulnerable populations. At the same time, the policy landscape addressing this issue remains siloed on the state and f...


NEPA in the Ninth

Can an agency just shortcut the whole process? The 9th Circuit says no.

On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit decided a NEPA case that discusses two interesting issues. But what's most striking isn't what the court did discuss but what it didn't mention : the fact that last year's NEPA amendments  speaks directly to one of those issues. Apparently the word that NEPA was extensively amended a year ago hasn't yet reached the federal courts. I'll start with some background on the case and then explain what the court did or didn't do. First, some ...


Here’s the Most Important Climate Bill of 2024

The Farm Bill proposal being pushed by House Republicans cuts climate programs and boosts factory farms. Congress should listen to the hundreds of chefs who are calling for climate fixes.

Normally, you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen. It spoils the broth, as the saying goes. But when it comes to debating, amending, and rewriting the U.S. Farm Bill, lawmakers in Congress need all the help they can get. Congress should listen to the hundreds of chefs and food industry pros who are asking them to include climate programs that help farmers implement sustainable practices and diversify supply chains.  The Farm Bill, which is supposed to be r...


Important Progress Toward a Climate-Ready Grid

New transmission is crucial. This is how FERC is starting to address the problem.

We urgently need more transmission to accommodate renewable energy, increased energy demand, and grid resilience to climate disasters. Yet the transmission approval process has been badly broken, often favoring small projects that plump up utility profits but do little to address longterm or regional transmission needs. Last week, the government took steps to improve permitting for new transmission lines. These moves have been urgently needed. (Regrettably, someone el...


Florida Governor DeSantis’ Head-In-The-Sand Climate Change Policies

New Florida Law Strikes Term "Climate Change" From State Laws, Promotes Fossil Fuels & Rejects Renewable Energy Projects

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in coordination with an equally myopic and partisan Florida Legislature, has approved new state legislation (HB 1645) that eliminates the term "climate change" from numerous existing Florida statutes that former Republican Governor Charlie Crist signed into law in 2008. The legislation, which takes effect on July 1st, is not just symbolic: it also prohibits construction of wind turbines in Florida's offshore waters and repeals state ...


The Supreme Court’s Top-10 Environmental Law Decisions

If these decisions had come out differently, environmental law would look very different than it does today.

What are the most important Supreme Court decisions in environmental law?  My "top 10" list is made up of cases that have done the most to shape the field as a while or the implementation of a major environmental statute. Putting together this list highlighted a decades-long duel between two Justices, Antonin Scalia and John Paul Stevens. Often, Scalia voted against the environmental side and Stevens voted for it.   Between them, the two Justices account for seven ...


Ninth Circuit Short-Circuits Juliana v. U.S. Climate Change Lawsuit

Iconic Children Plaintiffs Lack Legal Standing to Pursue Case, Court of Appeals Rules

Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order that likely ends one of the most closely-watched climate change lawsuits in recent American legal history: Juliana v. United States. The background of this litigation--which was filed in federal district court in Oregon in 2015--has been analyzed at length in past Legal Planet posts authored by me and several of my Legal Planet colleagues.  (Mine can be found here, here and here.)...


30 Major Climate Initiatives Under Biden

By any measure, it has been an eventful four years for climate policy, with billions in spending and many major regulations finalized. Here's a timeline of the Top 30 actions.

In his four years in office, Donald Trump rolled back essentially every existing federal policy to limit climate change. The picture under the Biden Administration has been a dramatic reversal, enacting lots of environmental protections and starting to spend tens of billions of dollars. By one count, Biden has overturned more than two dozen of Trump actions affecting the fossil fuel industry. And we could see yet another U-turn in climate policy after the November...


Pouring Gas on a Five Alarm Fire

That’s Trump’s climate policy in a nutshell. His campaign slogan should be, "Burn, Baby, Burn."

At a dinner for oil industry CEOs last week, Trump promised to fulfill the industry's every dream in return for a billion dollars in donations.  We urgently need now is more federal climate action, not less. Yet the reelection of Donald Trump would wipe out years of federal climate action.  It’s important to understand fully not just the immediate effect, but the permanent impact of a second Trump term. The short term damage would be bad enough. We know that Trump...


Can GoGreen Advance California’s Home Decarbonization Goals?

The state’s home energy financing program remains modest and needs to scale

Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission released a report evaluating the state’s GoGreen home energy financing program. Residential buildings are responsible for about 10 percent of state greenhouse gas emissions, and home decarbonization routinely ranks among the most challenging of our many emissions reduction challenges.  Our buildings and electrical distribution grid are old, retrofit projects are complex and time-consuming, and few Californians h...