Region: National

Will Rights of Nature Save The World?

Examining whether granting legal rights to nature could make a difference in how courts understand environmental law

A number of environmental advocates have been pushing a new strategy for environmental protection – seeking to pursue legal rights for elements of nature (such as rivers, lakes, ecosystems, or species), sometimes in alliance with Native American tribes.  This approach is not unique to the United States – rights of nature legal approaches have been …

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Two FERC Cases and Why They Matter

Last week’s D.C. Circuit cases illustrate why environmental lawyers need to understand FERC.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been called the most important environmental agency that no one has heard of. At the end of last week, the D.C. Circuit decided two undramatic FERC cases that illustrate FERC’s environmental significance. One involved a bailout to coal and nuclear plants, the other involved water quality. The first …

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Equity Weighting: A Brief Introduction

An unfamiliar concept for most that just might make cost-benefit analysis more progressive.

A technique called equity weighting could make regulation more progressive. Implementing this technique may be harder than it sounds, however, for a variety of practical, legal, and political reasons. Agencies might do best to use equity weighting as a way to check their regulatory decisions rather than as their main decision tool.

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Whose Interests Count? And How Much?

Whether to consider harms to foreign countries and future generations is controversial. So is how much weight to give harm to the poor.

Should regulators take into account harm to people in other countries? What about harm to future generations? Should we give special attention when the disadvantaged are harmed? These questions are central to climate policy and some other important environmental issues. I’ll use cost-benefit analysis as a framework for discussing these issues. You probably don’t need …

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An Abundance Research Agenda

If we need to build lots of things fast to address climate and housing crises, how will we do that?

There’s been a lot of buzz about this column by Ezra Klein in the New York Times.  Klein’s basic argument: We need to do a lot of infrastructure and other development projects to make the world a better place.  For example, we’ll need to build power lines and renewable projects to address climate change.  But …

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Will public power advance decarbonization?

Increasing public control of energy systems may not facilitate decarbonization

Over the past few years, there has been a push in both Europe and the United States for a “Green New Deal” in which decarbonization efforts would be pushed by aggressive, direct government investments in clean energy technology and infrastructure.  But in much of the United States and in Europe, large portions of the electricity …

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Advancing renewables through electricity restructuring

Reducing barriers to siting new electricity generation can help advance renewable energy production

Our electricity system will be crucial to decarbonization efforts, both because much of our current energy comes from electricity, and because decarbonizing sectors like transportation will require significant electrification.  And electricity is the sector where we have had the most success in decarbonization so far in the United States. But there is still more to …

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Protecting the federal estate

Understanding the Property Clause’s location in Article IV clarifies the power of Congress and the federal government to protect public lands

In my previous blog post, I discussed how the location of the Property Clause in Article IV can help answer key debates about congressional versus executive power under the Clause, as well as federal versus state power under the Clause.  Here I want to draw on the principles I developed in the prior blog post: …

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Taking Article IV Seriously

How “horizontal federalism” can help us understand federal power over the public lands

Can the President unilaterally end fossil fuel leasing on federal lands?  Or does this policy decision require Congressional intervention?  Can the President unilaterally terminate existing National Monuments that protect federal public lands from development?  Or does this policy decision also require Congressional intervention?  Does federal law preempt state law on federal lands?  Or does the …

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Our Common Ground

New book on history of federal public lands is an essential contribution

America’s public lands are a national, and even international, treasure.  Over a quarter of the United States is owned and managed by the federal government.  Public lands provide recreational opportunities for all Americans.  They provide valuable habitat for species and ecosystems.  They provide important natural resources, such as timber and minerals, that are both important …

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