Can NEPA save the world?

New Scientist's blog, Short Sharp Science, reports that repairs on the proton-smashing Large Hadron Collider at Europe's CERN may be complete by September. What's the environmental law connection? You might recall that before the LHC was briefly fired up in September 2008 (it only worked for 9 days before crashing), a lawsuit was filed in the federal district court in Hawaii to block it. The claim? That an EIS was required under NEPA because the United States had cont...

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The Bush Legacy

The New York Times has a story this morning that tries to summarize Bush's environmental legacy.  As the story points out, there are positive notes, like the diesel regulations and the last-minute designation of marine sanctuaries.  Yet, the overall message is negative.  The Bush Administration will largely be remembered as a time of environmental setbacks and lost opportunities. One such wasted opportunity came early in the Bush Administration, when we seemed to b...

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Delay on marine engines upheld

In the latest round in a long-running battle, the D.C. Circuit has upheld EPA's foot-dragging on regulation of emissions from large marine diesel engines against a challenge brought by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control District, and Friends of the Earth.  Large ships are major sources of air pollution along the Southern California coast. According to Santa Barbara APCD officials, marine shipping is currently responsib...

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More on OMB and Regulatory Policy

President Obama wants a new executive order on OMB oversight of regulation.  He has issued the following directive: I therefore direct the Director of OMB, in consultation with representatives of regulatory agencies, as appropriate, to produce within 100 days a set of recommendations for a new Executive Order on Federal regulatory review. Among other things, the recommendations should offer suggestions for the relationship between OIRA nd the agencies; provide guidance ...

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How Smart Can You Get?

It is said that it cost $3 million to air a 30 second advertisement during last weekend's Superbowl. If that is the case, then General Electric chose to spend that much (plus change for production cost) to run a cute little musical piece based on the Scarecrow's song from the Wizard of Oz -- "If I Only Had a Brain". It was 70 years ago that everyone's favorite Judy Garland film hit the theaters, but GE wasn't just offering us a nostalgic interlude between play-action pa...

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Are Law Professors Good Political Appointees?

I just got off the phone with a Bloomberg News reporter asking me about Harvard Law Professor Jody Freeman's appointment as counselor to Carol Browner.  After singing Jody's' praises (of which there are a great many) he asked me a more general question that has me thinking.   Is it a good thing for Obama to appoint law professors as high level advisors?    The question -- at least in my mind -- is meant to be about the generic category of law professor, not about a...

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Heads out of the sand on water supply risks

Last month the Senate passed S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. Buried in the depths of the lengthy bill is an important section called "Secure Water" which is intended to ensure that the nation understands and confronts the effects of climate change on water supply. It would require that the Department of Interior assess those impacts and develop strategies to deal with them. Recognizing that states and local entitities are primarily responsible for water ...

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Irresponsible fisheries

WWF has a new report out on compliance with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's voluntary Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing, which was issued in 1995. The report details the extent to which 53 countries, responsible for more than 95% of the world's wild fish harvests, complied with the code between 2003 and 2005. An accompanying commentary by the authors in Nature (subscription required) draws two take-home lessons. 1) Developed countries in general have...

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Preview of a long dry summer

It's still the rainy season, but California's drought is already beginning to affect operation of the state and federal water projects that divert water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds to serve cities and farms from the Bay Area to Southern California.  Yesterday the California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which jointly operate the two projects, sent this letter to the State Water Resources Control Board, requesting emerge...

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Obama Addresses Efficiency Standards

President Obama is pushing for the adoption of  better efficiency standards, the Times reports: Over the last three decades, Congress has demanded stricter efficiency standards on 30 categories of products, as varied as residential air-conditioners and industrial boilers. But successive administrations have failed to write regulations to enforce the laws, even when ordered to by the courts. In remarks to employees of the Energy Department, and in a presidential memorand...

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