Wildfires, CEQA, Climate Change & the Courts

Recent Court Decisions Halt Building Projects, Invalidate CEQA Reviews for Failing to Assess Wildfire Hazards

Environmental and conservation groups have for a number of years attempted to convince California courts of the need to integrate climate change considerations into environmental analyses prepared under the state’s most important environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  However, the California judiciary has demonstrated little appetite for doing so.  Until now. Recently, courts …

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Today’s Vaccine Cases: Implications for Climate Change Regulation

Today’s ruling are (somewhat) good news in terms of West Virginia v. EPA?

Today, the Court’s conservative Justices split the difference in two cases involving vaccine mandates, striking down OSHA’s mandate but upholding a more limited mandate for healthcare workers. The cases also split the conservative Justices themselves, with three hardliners (Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch) seeking a more activist ruling in the OSHA case and dissenting in the …

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The Least Surprising Disaster in History

Some disasters come as shocking surprises. Climate change is the opposite.

Whatever you want to say about climate change, you can’t say we’ve been blindsided.  The US has had decades to take action against climate change, and we spent nearly half that time deliberately making things worse. Scientists have had reasons for concern about climate change for over a century, and the first government report on …

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1990: The Year the Courts Discovered Climate Change

Cases were few, but one judge was years ahead of her time.

In an earlier post, I tried to figure out when the legal academy first discovered climate changes. As it turns out, it was almost a decade later when the federal courts took notice.  Those first climate change cases shed light on how new issues get litigated and how courts respond to new science. My research …

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The Quagmire of Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

The scope of federal jurisdiction over water bodies and wetlands remains as murky as ever.

The Biden Administration announced on Monday that it would not meet a February target date to issue a revised definition of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. It still plans to issue a revised definition later in the year. That sounds like a very technical issue. But it actually determines the extent to which …

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What Does the Future Hold for the American Gas Station?

The end of the gas car will eventually leave 100,000 stations behind.

Gas stations have been fixtures in our world for a century or more. There are even books of photos of picturesque gas stations, some futuristic, others quaint. We’re transitioning into a world dominated by electric vehicles. What does the future hold for these icons of the fossil fuel era? There are now about a hundred …

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2022: The Year Ahead

Here are the five biggest things to watch for.

There will be a lot going on this year in the environmental sphere.  I wanted to focus on a few big things to keep an eye on, rather than trying to give a long, comprehensive survey. Here are the five biggest things to watch for: Midterm elections. As of now, things are looking very good …

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2021: The Year in Review

After the dark days of the Trump Era, environmental policy had a very good year

The continuing pandemic sometimes makes it feel like time is frozen. But 2021 was a big year for environmental policy. Politics. The biggest news of 2021, for the environment as well as other reasons, was the replacement of Donald Trump by Joseph Biden. On the regulatory front, the change in White House control instantly stopped …

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Rescuing FEMA (and ourselves)

FEMA needs to grow in order to handle its work. The need for growth will only get greater as time goes on.

2021 was a year of disasters, with extraordinary heat waves, fires, a string of hurricanes, a  cold snap that left Texas in the dark, winter tornados, and torrential rains. FEMA has been left badly overstretched. That’s an urgent problem, and it’s likely a foretaste of the future. This is not just a problem for the …

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Positive Signs That California’s New Housing Laws Will be Enforced

Recent Actions by California Courts & State Officials Are Encouraging, & Push Back Against Local Government Recalcitrance on the Housing Reform Front

In a recent post, I analyzed the California Legislature’s recent passage and Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing into law of two important bills–SB 9 and SB 10–designed to confront California’s well-documented housing crisis.  Those laws represent but the latest chapter in the Legislature’s record-setting enactment of numerous statutes in recent years to incentivize and mandate construction …

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