Caveat Preemptor

President Obama issued a "memorandum" for heads of departments and agencies.  (I guess this must be technically different from an "executive order" but I'm not sure it matters: an order from the Boss is an order from the Boss is an order from the Boss.)  The memo contains a reminder about the importance of federalism and some more specific instructions negating Bush Administration practices: No preemptive statements in regulation preambles unless the body contains a ...

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Auto Emissions Deal–Enough Credit to Go Around?

The announcement of the deal on auto emissions was roundly hailed as a remarkable achievement of the Obama Administration.  There is no arguing with the notion that it was dramatic, both in terms of the bargaining process and the outcome.  The Los Angeles Times today provided a behind-the-scenes view of the months-long negotiations, including everything from last minute deal-breakers to hushed cell phone calls at a baseball game.  Likewise, the visual of the President...

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Mountaintop mining update

In March, I wrote here about EPA's newfound boldness on mountaintop removal mining. Under current regulations, the Corps of Engineers issues permits for that practice under Clean Water Act section 404, but EPA has the authority to veto those permits. EPA, which was entirely passive on the matter under the Bush administration, had sent objections to the Corps on a couple of permits, and announced that "it would take a close look" at others. It is now clear that a close l...

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Both Sides are Right on Waxman-Markey

Cara asks what people think about the Waxman-Markey bill.  It seems clear to me that both sides are right.  And no, this isn't a case of realism versus idealism. Waxman-Markey might be the strongest thing that can get through Congress right now.  And even that might be over-optimistic: Waxman can move the thing through the House, but then the process starts all over again in the Senate, where people like Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson will attempt to show the Beltway Elite...

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Environmental Hubris: Another Proposed “Fix” for the California Delta

Recently, California state water officials announced with considerable fanfare their latest technological "fix" for the environmental ills that have in recent years befallen the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, the Delta is in serious environmental decline--as scientists have carefully documented and which no one disputes at this point. The latest, proposed solution, as reported by San Francisco Chronicle writer Kelly ...

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Good news of the day: Leatherback turtles

In a paper published in Biological Conservation (subscription required for full access), Matthew Witt et al. have found that Gabon hosts the largest known nesting population of leatherback sea turtles. Using aerial surveying techniques, instead of the usual on-the-ground work, over several years, the group estimated that between 15,000 and 40,000 female leatherbacks use the Gabon coastline as a nesting site. (Hat tip: EcoTone.) The news is especially good because nearly ...

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No pre-contamination chicken litter injunction

In a split decision, the Tenth Circuit has upheld a district court decision denying a preliminary injunction sought by the state of Oklahoma against Tyson Foods and other large-scale Arkansas-based poultry producers in an unusual Resource Conservation and Recovery Act case. RCRA allows citizen suits against anyone involved in the "handling, storage, treatment, transportation, or disposal of any solid or hazardous waste which may present an imminent and substantial endan...

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Taking sides on Waxman-Markey

Now that the revised Waxman-Markey compromise draft has been make public (here), those in favor of strong climate change regulation are soul-searching about whether to support it.  Did Waxman give away too much -- on, among other things, free allowances to industry, reduced caps, and lessened requirements for ramping up renewable energy sources (see Steve's post on this last point here)?  Despite all the compromises, is this our best hope for cutting emissions on a ti...

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Obama’s Bold New Auto Standards

In what is a huge victory for California and a strong national commitment to more fuel efficient cars, the New York Times is reporting that the Obama administration will grant California its waiver to issue tough greenhouse gas emissions standards while at the same time combining those standards with a new national Corporate Automotive Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard.  The result will be a unified national fuel standard of 42 miles per gallon for passenger cars by 2016 and...

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Sea level falling in places — but change still problematic

This morning's New York Times has this story by Cornelia Dean describing the changes global warming is bringing to Juneau, Alaska. While sea level is rising relative to coast lines in many parts of the world as ocean waters warm and expand, the opposite is happening in and around Juneau. As the region's glaciers recede, the land is rebounding from removal of that weight far faster than sea levels are rising. The land has risen about 10 feet relative to sea level over t...

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