Debating Environmental Racism in the Ninth Circuit

A recent case occasioned a sharp exchange about accusation of environmental racism.

 Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. FAA is a Ninth Circuit opinion decided before the Thanksgiving break. It involved to a legal challenge to the FAA’s refusal to prepare a full-scale environmental impact statement before approving a major Amazon distribution center at the San Bernardino airport. I probably wouldn’t have read the decision …

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The Need for Enhanced and Meaningful Confidentiality in Tribal Cultural Resource Protection

For Indigenous Peoples, the forced removal from ancestral lands coupled with the Western commodification of human remains and ceremonial objects has resulted in a devastating and ongoing loss of cultural resources. This loss includes both tangible resources and landscapes as well as intangible traditional knowledge. During the pursuit of cultural resource protection, tribes are compelled …

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What to Be Thankful For (2021 edition)

Here's the one thing environmentalists should be most thankful for this year.

If there is a single thing for environmentalists to be thankful for this year, it is simply this:  the virulently anti-environmental Donald Trump is no longer in the White House. My Thanksgiving post last year began, “Nearly four years into the Trump Administration, we’re now accustomed to waking up every morning to learn about a …

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What’s in the Reconciliation Bill?

The House takes an important step toward transforming the energy system

Last Friday, the House passed its version of the Build Back Better Act. Due to a quirk in parliamentary procedure, the Senate will be able to consider the $1.7 trillion bill under the “reconciliation” process, which means no filibuster is allowed. It remains unclear whether anyone can wrangle all fifty Senators into supporting some version …

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Five Reasons Why Juliana Stumbled

The legal deck was stacked against the “children’s lawsuit.”

Juliana has been a valiant effort by a group of young people to force the federal government to plan for stringent reductions in U.S. carbon emissions. As I wrote in a previous post, several well-regarded foreign courts have upheld claims that are similar in concept to the Juliana case.  The U.S. legal system, however, provided …

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Bold Climate Rulings Beyond Our Borders

Courts in other Western countries are stepping up to the climate challenge.

The atmosphere for climate litigation in our Supreme Court is decidedly chilly.  Some of its peers in other countries have taken a much different approach.  US lawyers tend to be inward focused, adept at understanding our own legal system but largely unaware of developments elsewhere.  Here, I want to briefly summarize some key rulings. Germany. …

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Aggregating the Harms of Fossil Fuels

They’re even worse than you probably thought.

The decision at the Glasgow climate conference to phase down fossil fuels is an important step forward — and not just because of climate change.  We think of fossil fuels as a source of climate change, but that’s only a one part of the problem. From their extraction to their combustion, everything about them is …

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Making Sense of the US-China Joint Glasgow Declaration

One small step for climate action, one modest leap for US-China relations

Yesterday, China and the US announced a “Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s” (En/Ch) What to make of it? The short answer is that it only offers slight forward progress on climate action. Increased climate ambition from China and US in the short-term remains the critical metric and in this regard …

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Climate Change in the Law School Curriculum

What role will the subject play in the curriculum of the future?

Someone asked me recently what I thought law schools should be teaching about climate change.  Naturally, my first reaction is that everyone everywhere needs to put climate change at the top of their agenda. As usually happens, when I got past that gut reaction, things got more complicated. There are many important societal issues that …

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The Fuss about Methane

Part 1: Science and weird facts

Methane is getting a lot of attention in climate debates. There was even a “Methane Day” last Tuesday at the climate conference in Glasgow. Several new regulations controlling methane emissions have been adopted recently, including two new rules for the US oil and gas sector announced last week. There’s a new informal international agreement to …

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