A Paper Tiger?

Trump is proposing big changes to CEQ regs. But they may not matter.

The Trump Administration is trying to gut the current White House rules on environmental impact statements.  Some people view this move as a death blow to an important environmental tool. Here’s what Trump is trying to do and why it may not matter as much as people fear. As to what Trump & Co. are …

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Drawdown Marin

How Does a Local Government Reduce GHG Emissions?

In November, Australia’s deputy Prime Minister described those making the link between climate change and bush fires as “inner-city raving lunatics.”  We can report some progress.  His boss, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, now acknowledges the link (although he wants to maintain current policies). As climate impacts become more extreme and obvious, more jurisdictions, from cities …

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A Continent on Fire Ignores Climate Change

Conditions in Australia keep getting worse. The government offers platitudes.

Australia is remarkably exposed to climate change and remarkably unwilling to do much about it. Conditions keep getting worse. Yet climate policy in Australia has been treading water or backpedalling for years, as I discussed in an earlier post. Let’s start with the temperature.  The Guardian reports that in the year up to July 2019, …

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Happy Birthday, NEPA!

NEPA turns 50 today. Its passage was the beginning of modern environmental law.

Welcome to 2020.  Before we start worrying about the year ahead, it’s worth taking a look backward.  Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act, usually called NEPA for short. When he signed NEPA into law, President Nixon said: “It is particularly fitting that my first official act in …

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Commemorating the National Environmental Policy Act’s 50th Anniversary

Celebrating NEPA: America's Most Transformative, Overarching & Catalytic Environmental Law

On a snowy New Year’s Day in 1970–50 years ago today–then-President Richard Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act.  NEPA’s passage marked the beginning of America’s modern environmental law era.  It  was followed by Congressional passage of a series of other federal environmental laws over the next decade–major statutes that to this day …

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Revolt of the Captive Scientists

Trump’s Scientific Advisory Board Slams Proposed EPA Rules

Trump has appointed  most of the members of EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), many of them selected from industry. That effort to stack SAB in favor of deregulation apparently wasn’t a complete success. In draft reports issued this week, the SAB scathingly criticized those efforts and even went so far as to give a nod …

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Bright Spots of 2019 (Yes, there were some!)

A bad year in many ways, but with promising signs for the future.

It’s been a tumultuous and often grim year in terms of environmental protection. The Trump Administration continued its onslaught against environmental protection, completing major regulatory rollbacks. Nevertheless, there were some rays of sun through the darkening clouds. State Initiatives.  Progress as the state level continued, as it has throughout the Trump Administration.  New York State …

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Threat Assessment: The Supreme Court & the Environment

The current bench is tilted against environmental regulation. It could get worse.

In September, Take Back the Court issued a study entitled, “The Roberts Court Would Likely Strike Down Climate Change Legislation.”  In my view, that’s too alarmist. But the current conservative majority definitely will be an obstacle to aggressive use of government regulation.  That could hold true well into the 2030s, depending on who leaves the …

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Gifts We Receive Daily

Our everyday gifts: a livable climate, clean water and air, and biodiversity.

This is a time of year when by religious tradition or secular custom, many people exchange gifts. It’s worth remembering that we also reach receive daily gifts in the form of what economists call public goods. I thought it might be worth reposting some Holiday Season musings on that subject. After all, the holiday season …

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When is a Flood a Government Taking?

Should the feds be liable for flooding during Hurricane Harvey?

A federal statute bars nearly all claims against the federal government for flooding.  Victims of flooding from Hurricane Harvey seem to have found a loophole by claiming that their property was taken without just compensation by flooding.  The facts are unusual, but the case raises some deep questions about financial responsibility for flood control. Here …

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