Justice Breyer’s Nuanced Voice for the Environment

Not much for rhetoric, but a reliable vote for environmental protection.

There was a lot of speculation last summer about whether Justice Stephen Breyer would retire. At this point, the answer is obviously “not yet.” As we move further into another Supreme Court term, it seems timely to take a look at his environmental record.  No doubt the question his retirement will arise again next June …

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What power does the state have over land-use regulation in California?

State court concludes that state does have the authority to intervene in local regulation of land-use

A big court ruling in California land-use law happened last month – and it has really large implications for the state’s efforts to address California’s housing crisis. The lawsuit is a challenge by a pro-housing advocacy group (California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CARLA)) to a decision by the City of San Mateo to …

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Why Local Governments Underproduce Housing

Local control over land-use regulation means local governments focus more on the harms than the benefits of housing

As governments in California and across the United States wrestle with how to address soaring housing costs, a significant flashpoint has been the issue of local control.  Most land-use regulation in the United States is done by local governments: cities, counties, towns, villages.  In California, much of the legislation intended to increase housing production has …

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The Shock of the Global

Natural gas flame

What the current fossil fuel energy crisis means for climate and clean energy policy

Pick up any newspaper and it is clear that much of the world is experiencing a series of interrelated energy price shocks.  In Europe and the UK, natural gas prices are up by more than 500% over the last year, hitting all-time highs earlier this month. In the US, even with abundant supplies of natural …

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North Carolina’s New Climate Legislation

A major, bipartisan step forward in an unlikely state.

Last week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed an important piece of climate legislation.  I wrote last month about major, bipartisan climate legislation in Illinois.  Like the Illinois law, the North Carolina law enjoyed broad bipartisan support.  The North Carolina legislature is under firm Republican. Nevertheless, the bill passed the state senate by a 42 …

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Delayed harm and the politics of climate change, reconsidered

How much does zero emissions warming commitment matter, and what are its political implications?

The world is gathering soon in Glasgow to debate how to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. But what happens when we achieve the goal of zero carbon dioxide emissions from human actions? Does the climate keep warming, stay the same, or even cool? It turns out this is a critical question for …

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Reforming the California Endangered Species Act

Updating the state's landmark biodiversity law for the twenty-first century

California has a rich heritage of biodiversity, with many species found nowhere else in the world (including the iconic giant sequoia trees).  But California’s biodiversity faces grave threats – pressures from development that eliminates habitat; water shortages that harm aquatic species in California’s rivers; and climate change impacts that are shifting and altering habitats, among …

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Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

Even if we miss our targets, simply shaving or flattening the carbon curve would be worth fighting for.

Although lacking the same eloquence, today’s post is in the spirit of Churchill’s famous speech promising that Britain would “fight on the beaches, … we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” My point is this: No matter how many battles we end up losing in the fight to stop carbon emissions, we …

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Climate and Colonialism: Some Columbus Day Thoughts

Is climate change itself a form of colonialism?

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” That’s what we learned in my grade school. Today, Columbus Day remains a day of celebration for some but has become a symbols of colonialism for others. Rather than entering that debate, I’d like to reflect on how issues of colonialism might relate to climate change. The study …

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Report from Planet X

Help, our energy system screwed up our planet!

A long time ago, in another galaxy far far away . . . . Dear Galactic Governance Collaborative, Those of us who colonized Planet X now find ourselves in dangerous straits. We request urgent assistance due to escalating environmental instability.  You’re thinking  it’s not easy to screw up an entire planet. You’re right about that. …

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