Conservative Judicial Activism Strikes Again

A wild-eyed misinterpretation of the commerce clause

A federal district judge ruled today that the federal government’s moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional. The judge’s theory is that evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent isn’t an “economic” activity. Therefore, it’s beyond Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. I know that sounds nuts, but that actually it is what the judge said. The judge’s theory …

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Three Ways of Dodging Responsibility

After disaster strikes, there are some tried-and-true ways of avoiding responsibility.

In the wake of the Texas blackouts, we’re seeing a number of familiar moves to deflect blame by the usual suspects–politicians, regulators, and CEOs. These evasive tactics all begin with a core truth: Eliminating all risk is impossible and would be too expensive even if it weren’t. But then they spin that truth in various …

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Getting Down to the Nitty Griddy

United States at Night

The Texas Blackout and the Politics of Price Making

As has been widely reported over the past week, some Texas electricity customers are now facing astronomically high electricity bills as a result of the recent power grid crisis. Under the Texas system, which is as close to a fully deregulated system of electricity provisioning as we have in the U.S., retail customers are allowed …

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Implementing the “Biden Environmental Litigation Bounce-Back”

Encouraging Signals As To How Biden's USDOJ Will Resolve Environmental Lawsuits Originally Brought Against the Trump Administration

The transition from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration makes for fascinating spectator sport.  President Biden’s first month in office reveals that he and his Administration are committed to undoing the widespread damage former President Trump and his minions engineered across so many policy and legal areas.  The environment is a particularly prominent example. …

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New Report: Improving Access to Energy Data

Policy solutions to support the data needed for resilient decarbonization

Today, the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) at Berkeley Law and the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA Law are releasing a new report, Data Access for a Decarbonized Grid, which highlights key policy solutions to expand access to the energy data needed to operate a fully decarbonized …

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How Much Should Texas Invest in Grid Resilience?

The Texas blackouts provide a case study in how to think through resilience issues.

As we begin to think through the long-term response to the Texas blackout, there’s a lot we don’t yet know.  The ultimate issues are how much resilience we need against events like this  and how we should obtain it. It’s helpful to lay out the kinds of questions we need to be asking as we …

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A Tale of Two Blackouts

NASA Earth Observatory, Feb. 19, 2021

Learning from the Texas and California Power Grid Failures

The Texas blackouts earlier this week have reminded us once again of the vital importance of electricity as part of the basic infrastructure of everyday life and the terrible consequences that ensue when the grid fails.  Recent reports indicate that dozens of people have died as a result of the extreme weather and blackouts and …

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The Big Chill

What went wrong in Texas and what can we learn from it?

The rolling blackouts in Texas were national news. Texas calls itself the energy capital of the United States, yet it couldn’t keep the lights on. Conservatives were quick to blame reliance on wind power, just as they did last summer when California faced power interruptions due to a heat wave.  What really happened? It’s true …

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The End of the Juliana Litigation–Or Is It?

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Denies Rehearing, But Landmark Climate Change Litigation's Impact Will Endure

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied rehearing en banc in one of the nation’s most closely-watched climate change lawsuits: Juliana v. United States.  But the legal and policy impact of this landmark litigation will endure.  And the case itself may not be concluded. Juliana involves a novel legal argument: that …

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Expertise versus Politics Under Biden

Experts will no longer be pariahs under Biden. But will their voices be heard?

One of the abiding issues in governance is the balance between democratic leadership and experts.  We don’t want government solely by technocrats.  Nor do we want government steered solely by ideology and politics, as under Trump.  Biden will be a vast improvement, but there’s still some question about whether he’ll get the balance right. I …

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