Don’t Know Much Biology

As a famous biologist once said, "without evolution nothing in biology makes sense."   And biological science  is obviously basic to a lot of environmental policy. Thus, it is dismaying to learn that only four out of ten Americans believe in evolution.  Trying to understand environmental policy without believing in evolution is like trying to understand nuclear energy without believing in atoms. According to the Gallop Poll, On the eve of the 200th anniversary of C...

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Midnight regulations and how the Obama administration can improve federal regulation

There has been a lot of talk about "midnight regulations" issued or initiated by the Bush administration in its final days (including the one that is the subject of this post by Holly).   Outgoing presidents, starting at least with Jimmy Carter, have had a practice of issuing many new regulatory decisions in a hurry as they leave office, with the goal of promoting their policy agendas long after they are gone.   Elizabeth Kolbert published a short piece about th...

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Debunking stereotypes about sprawl and Los Angeles: Be Precise!

Eric A. Morris over at Freakonomics is challenging readers to debunk fashionable stereotypes (often promoted by the jealous folks from the Bay Area) about Los Angeles and sprawl. On Monday, he made clear what planning folks have known for a long time: LA is actually quite a dense city. But be careful how you ask your questions. The stereotype Morris listed was "Los Angeles has developed in a low-density, sprawling pattern." As we lawyers would say: "Objection. Compound...

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Wolf woes

Wolf conservation has long been among both the most controversial and the most  creative aspects of implementation of the U.S. Endangered Species Act. There's been a flurry of wolf news over the past three months. It emphasizes conflict, some of that over attempts at creative ESA implementation. In the southwest the Mexican wolf is suffering at the hands of bureaucrats and scofflaws, and in the Great Lakes and northern Rockies the gray wolf is causing headaches for bure...

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Calling All Nanotubes

California is out in front on emerging environmental issues once again.  Using authorities provided under AB 289, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) recently issued a call to manufacturers for information relating to carbon nanotubes manufactured in or imported into California.  Carbon nanotubes have received significant attention of late given their growing level of use in commerce, and a series of studies suggesting that they may present significant he...

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Drill baby drill?

Remember last year when gas was at $4 a gallon, and candidates were falling all over themselves to explain how they would bring that price down? Two longstanding moratoria against oil and gas development in federal waters fell to that political pressure. In July, George W. Bush lifted an executive ban, initially issued by his father in 1990 and covering most of the nation's coasts, with the exception of parts of Alaska and the Gulf Coast. In the fall, Congress allowed it...

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This is for the birds

More depressing climate change news on bird migration: An Audubon Society study to be released Tuesday found that more than half of 305 birds species in North America, a hodgepodge that includes robins, gulls, chickadees and owls, are spending the winter about 35 miles farther north than they did 40 years ago. So if it's getting warmer farther north, will climate change impacts be reduced by US snowbirds having to drive shorter distances to find sunshine? Could be a lot ...

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Legal Challenge to RGGI

The operator of a cogeneration plant in upstate New York, Indeck Corinth, has filed suit to challenge the Northeastern states' carbon trading scheme, RGGI.  Apart from some state law claims, the most significant claims seem to be preemption under PURPA and Compact Clause violation.   For reasons, discussed in this article, I think the Compact Clause argument is unfounded.  Someone else might be able to comment on the PURPA issues and the state law claims.  There are...

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Goodbye CCELP, Hello CLEE

Three years ago, the U.C. Berkeley Law School launched a new research center devoted to environmental law and policy: the California Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CCELP).  From its inception, CCELP has worked on a variety of energy matters.  However, since 2006 the intersection of energy and environmental policy has become both more obvious and more important.  Climate change may be the best illustration: the majority of climate change issues have a stron...

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How do we decide what is a “Water of the United States”? Rapanos revisited

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinions in Rapanos v. United States in 2006, it has been unclear exactly how the U.S. is to go about evaluating which wetlands and tributaries of navigable waters are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.  Until recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asserted federal jurisdiction over wetlands and tributaries even where their connection to open, traditionally navigable waterways were attenuated.  T...

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