The Climate Bill inside the Infrastructure Bill

The US takes a major step forward on the path to carbon neutrality.

Late Friday, the House passed Biden’s infrastructure bill. As the Washington Post aptly observed, the bill is the biggest climate legislation to ever move through Congress. It also attracted key support from some Republicans, which was essential to passing it in both houses of Congress. Biden is pushing for an even bigger companion bill, but …

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Is China Doing Enough on Climate Change? COP26 Version

Climate Action Tracker

Chinese leaders have an opportunity to increase ambition and clarify the country's climate plans

As COP26 kicks off in Glasgow, Scotland this week, the world is confronted with a basic reality. Current national climate pledges fall well-short of the Paris Agreement goal to keep global average temperature increase this century well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The UN’s 2021 …

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Major Questions About the Major Questions Doctrine

You may not have heard of this doctrine but it’s a big threat to innovative regulations.

Unless you’re deeply immersed in administrative law, you may not have heard of the major questions doctrine. It’s a legal theory that conservative judges have used with increasing rigor to block important regulatory initiatives.  The doctrine places special obstacles on agency regulations of issues of “major economic and political significance.” In its initial outing, the …

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A Bad Week for Biden, and for Climate Action

First House progressives, and next conservative Justices, poked a stick in the spokes.

President Biden hoped to go to the international climate summit in Glasgow with momentum behind him. He wanted to reestablish US credibility with concrete progress on climate change. Instead, the ability of the US to take action on climate change is shrouded in doubt.  Biden  suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of members of …

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What do U.S. states do at a COP, anyway?

Newsom's out, but California and other states continue with robust delegations headed to Scotland

You’ve likely heard that the big annual United Nations climate conference is about to get underway in Glasgow, with nations around the world gathering together to try to advance international climate cooperation.  But it’s not just national representatives who will attend; many subnational jurisdictions, including California and other U.S. states, also send  significant delegations.  Although …

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The Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat

Yes, there actually is one. It’s in Reykjavík. And here’s why it’s worth pondering.

Working away in anonymity, a cadre of civil servants keeps the machinery of government working.  There’s actually a monument in Reykjavík, Iceland to these public servants. It shows someone in a business suit carrying a briefcase — or more specifically, the lower half of the person, with the upper half replaced by a block of …

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Show Time: Stark message from the International Energy Agency

As the 26th Climate Conference (COP26) approaches, there is lots of discussion of the recent IPCC report. There will be a flood of other climate reports landing over the next couple of weeks, from international agencies, environmental groups, industry associations, and many others, all timed for maximum attention at the COP. But for a concrete …

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Cost-Benefit Analysis: FAQs

Cost-benefit analysis has been a key part of the regulatory process since 1980. Here’s how it works.

Cost-benefit analysis is required for all major regulations. It’s also highly controversial, as well as being a mysterious procedure unless you’re an economist.  These FAQs will tell you what you need to know about how cost-benefit analysis (CBA) fits into the regulatory process, how it works, and why it’s controversial. Q: Let’s start with a …

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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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