How Garden-Variety Air Pollution Regulation Promotes Environmental Justice
Cleaning up our nation’s air benefits the disadvantaged most of all.
Evidence is mounting that air pollution regulation is an effective way of reducing health disparities between disadvantaged communities and the population as a whole. The basic reason is simple: Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to poor communities and communities of color. As the American Lung Association has said: “The burden of air pollution …
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Why the Bay Area’s Zero-Emission Appliance Rule is a Big Deal
BAAQMD’s trailblazing rule will ban the sale of new gas furnaces and water heaters to combat nitrogen oxide pollution. It marks a big victory for public health and the planet.
Air quality officials in the San Francisco Bay Area just made history by moving to adopt the nation’s first rules phasing out new gas-fueled water heaters and furnaces in homes and businesses within about eight years. This action serves as a major step in the effort to curb health-harming and planet-warming emissions from buildings. Several cities …
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Deregulation, Normal Accidents, and the Airborne Toxic Event
What can we learn from the East Palestine train wreck?
Source: Wikimedia Commons The East Palestine train derailment is the story that won’t go away. Images of enraged residents shouting at company executives and government officials about the inadequacy of the response remind us all that across our vast industrial economy accidents of one sort or another are always waiting to happen while private firms …
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Congressional Cancel Culture
Once again, the Congressional Review Act rears its ugly head.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) provides a fast-track process for canceling regulations if they hit an ideological nerve or offend a powerful special interest. Congressional Republicans are busily trying use it to cancel environmental regulations. Earlier this month, the target was a regulation encouraging pension managers to consider the impact of climate risks on their …
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Learning to Name Environmental Problems
It was only in the 1960s that the Supreme Court learned to talk about “pollution” and “wilderness.”
There are Supreme Court cases going back a century or more dealing with what we would now consider environmental issues such as preserving nature or air pollution. But when did the Court start seeing filthy rivers and smokey cities as embodiments of the same problem, despite their striking physical differences? And when it did start …
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Keep on Trucking
A new rule will clean up exhaust from new diesels, a major health threat.
Last week, EPA finalized its new rule imposing emission limits on new heavy trucks. The new regulation was clearly a massive undertaking. EPA’s formal announcement of the new rule is 1100 pages long. The accompanying summary of comments on the proposed rule and EPA’s responses is another 2000 pages. This is partly due to the …
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The Supreme Court’s Earliest Pollution Cases
Long before Congress, a notoriously conservative Court started taking pollution seriously.
Well over a century ago, the Supreme Court ruled that it had that power to remedy interstate water pollution. That was in 1901. Six years later, the Court decided its first air pollution case. Notably, these cases came during the conservative Lochner era when the Court was hardly known for its liberalism. Quite the contrary. …
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A Design Flaw in the Clean Air Act
Why have technology-based standards if you have air quality standards?
The Clean Air Act has two kinds of standards. It sounds like having two kinds of standards should improve air quality more than a single standard. But in reality, one type of standard can result in canceling out the benefits of the other type. If you understand the statute, this is actually pretty obvious once …
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Taking A Data-Driven Tour of Air Pollution Law
After Half a Century, What Do We Really Know about the Impacts of the Clean Air Act?
Earlier this year, a team of economists published a retrospective paper on the Clean Air Act. It surveys the economic literature to find out what the data tells us about emission trading systems, the effects of pollutants, and effects of imposing tougher regulatory requirements in areas that failed to meet national air quality standards. Some …
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Regan Hits His Stride
Under Administrator Michael Regan, the Biden EPA is beginning to churn out important new regulatory proposals.
The Trump Administration left a trail of regulatory destruction behind it. Cleaning up the mess and issuing new regulations is Priority #1 for the Biden Administration. Under EPA head Michael Regan, the effort is beginning to pick up steam. EPA has begun the year with several major new regulatory efforts. No one of them is …
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