Is a Pandemic a Major Disaster?

Cuomo has asked for major disaster relief. But there's a serious legal hurdle to that.

Yesterday, I wrote about presidential powers in a pandemic. I mentioned the possibility of declaring the pandemic a major disaster under the Stafford Act.  Today, we learned that Gov. Cuomo of New York has made such a request. [Note: two days after this was written, FEMA granted the request.] What does the law have to …

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The Flight From Evidence-Based Regulation

This Administration specializes in arguments for ignoring the evidence.

The Trump Administration’s major deregulatory efforts share a common theme. They assiduously avoid having to rely on scientific or economic evidence. Confronting that evidence is time-consuming and difficult, particularly when it often comes out the other way. Instead, the Administration has come up with clever strategies to shut out the evidence. The effort to repeal …

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Presidential Power in a Pandemic

The President does have considerable power, but there are serious limitations.

Now that Trump has belatedly declared a national emergency, what powers does he have to respond to the coronavirus pandemic?  There has been a lot of talk about this on the Internet, some of it off-base. it’s important to get the law straight. For instance, there’s been talk about whether Trump should impose a national …

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Reducing Coronavirus Fatalities: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

Q: From an economic perspective, what’s it worth spending to curb the pandemic? A: A lot.

At an extremely rough estimate, it would be worth spending about $4 trillion to cut the coronavirus death rate in half.

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Does Being Conservative Have to Mean Ignoring Risks?

Florida’s Ron DeSantis doesn’t seem to think so.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shows that it’s possible to be a staunch conservative and still be honest about the risks of climate change and the coronavirus.

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How Hot Will Things Get?

Identifying a realistic worst case scenario is complicated.

How hot will the world be in 2100? The answer partly depends on how much carbon we dump in the atmosphere between now and then. It also depends on how sensitive the climate system is to those emissions. Scientists have used 4.5 °C as the high end of the likely possibilities. That estimate derives from …

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Europe Mulls its First Climate Law

European Union flag

What would it do in terms of emissions targets and likely actual mitigation?

The European Union is, if one treats it as a country, the world’s third greatest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs). It has also been a leader in emissions reduction (“mitigation”), and its per capita emissions are merely 43% of the US’s. The EU government is presently considering a major new climate law that will set …

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Heathrow’s Third Runway and Airport GHG Emissions

California's potential opportunity to lead through local action

Late last month, a UK court blocked a proposed new runway at London’s Heathrow Airport, ruling that the project conflicted with the national government’s commitment under the 2015 Paris Agreement. The court held that project planners improperly failed to assess the proposal’s consistency with the UK government’s ratified plan to help meet the Paris target …

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California’s New Housing Bill Seeks To End Single-Family Zoning

Sen. Wiener introduces SB 902 to increase suburban density & streamline transit-oriented housing

Sen. Scott Wiener is back trying to boost California housing production again, after his SB 50 legislation to upzone for apartments around transit died in the State Senate in January. This time, he’s proposing a “lighter touch” approach, salvaging an SB 50 provision that would end single-family zoning across the state. Senate Bill 902 would …

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What the Administration Failed to Learn from Past Disasters

There are some basic rules about how to respond to emergencies. They were ignored.

An epidemic and a hurricane require different responses. But the organizational challenge of confronting an emergency is a constant.  Here are some basic rules the Trump Administration failed to heed.  Ensure in advance that sufficient supplies will be quickly available.   When Hurricane Katrina hit, the government did have supplies, but they were located hundreds …

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