War and the Environment

War brings devastation to people's lives. And to the planet itself.

This post was delayed due to a technical problem at Legal Planet, but it was originally scheduled for Memorial Day — an apt date to think about how wars, along with their other tragic costs, impact the environment. We are now in the process of ending our “Forever War” in Afghanistan. The country has been …

CONTINUE READING

How Harmful Was Trump’s COVID Response?

We know it was bad, but how much of the U.S. death rate can be attributed to him rather than circumstances?

The U.S. COVID response went badly in 2020. How much was because Trump was Trump? That is, if Trump had been a moderately competent but imperfect leader, facing a diverse population with a significant resistance to public health measures, how many lives would have been saved? That’s not a question that anyone can answer with …

CONTINUE READING

How Biden’s Climate-Related Financial Risk Order Relates to State Policy

The federal government takes a big step, but state leaders still have a role to play

On Thursday the White House issued an Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk that outlines a key plank in the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government approach to addressing climate change. Whereas the Trump Administration sought to actively block consideration of environmental factors in investment decision-making, the Biden Administration is directing financial and climate regulators to develop strategies …

CONTINUE READING

Getting the Lead Out

The Ninth Circuit tells EPA to determine safe levels for lead based solely on science.

Lead can cause neurological damage to young children and developing fetuses. The only really safe level is zero. Because poor children are the most likely to be exposed to this hazard, this is also a major environmental justice issue. The Trump EPA took the position that it could set a hazard level higher than zero …

CONTINUE READING

Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Biden EPA

The recent rescission of  a Trump rule hints at how the Biden Administration views the role of cost-benefit analysis.

In its closing days, the Trump Administration issued a rule designed to tilt EPA’s cost-benefit analysis of air pollution regulations in favor of industry. Last week, EPA rescinded the rule.  The rescission was no surprise, given that the criticisms of the Trump rule by economists as well as environmentalists. EPA’s explanation for the rescission was …

CONTINUE READING

Guest Contributor Jetta Cook: Greater Than the Sum: Sub-national Renewable Energy Policy during the Trump Administration

Solar panel array in CA desert

Even Red-States Supported and Increased Renewable Energy during the Trump Administration

Below the federal level, it’s difficult to discern the impact that the Trump Administration had on energy policy. To take a closer look, I conducted a fifty-state survey to discern how state, local, and public utility actions affecting energy policy came together as a whole over the past four years. Across the nation, I found, …

CONTINUE READING

The Supreme Court’s (Non-)Decision in Major Climate Change Case

BP P.L.C. v. Baltimore Ruling a Technical Win for Energy Defendants--But There's Less There Than Meets the Eye

Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued its first major environmental decision of the Court’s current Term–and in a climate change case, no less: BP P.L.C v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. Superficially, the multinational energy corporations sued by the City of Baltimore prevailed, in a 7-1 majority opinion authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch.  But …

CONTINUE READING

Taxing Carbon?

Should we adopt a corporate carbon tax? Something to think about on Tax Day.

Today is Tax Day, delayed from its usual spot in mid-April due a backlog at the IRS.  It seems like an apt time to think about a carbon tax.  At present, it doesn’t seem to be on Biden’s agenda, but agendas can change with circumstances, sometimes unpredictably. Politically, the biggest problem with a carbon tax …

CONTINUE READING

Making Corporate Commitments Credible

How can we make climate pledges something more than cheap talk?

Companies across many different economic sectors have announced ambitious goals like being climate neutral by 2050. Commitments on ESG – Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance — are a growing corporate emphasis. Talk is cheap, however.  How can we know they’re serious?  How can we even be sure that the information they release about their environmental …

CONTINUE READING

Guest Contributors Clara Barnosky, Jane Sadler, Richard Yates, and Zachary Zimmerman: The Biden Administration’s First 100 Days of Reversing Environmental Rollbacks

Joe Biden

An Early Analysis of Progress and Priorities in the Executive Branch

In the final months of the Trump presidency, we (a team of students working with U.C. Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE)) compiled a database of over 200 environmental rollbacks enacted during the Trump administration. These rollbacks characterized the administration’s aggressive focus on deregulation of industry and disregard of protections for the …

CONTINUE READING

TRENDING