energy law

Three Ways of Dodging Responsibility

After disaster strikes, there are some tried-and-true ways of avoiding responsibility.

In the wake of the Texas blackouts, we’re seeing a number of familiar moves to deflect blame by the usual suspects–politicians, regulators, and CEOs. These evasive tactics all begin with a core truth: Eliminating all risk is impossible and would be too expensive even if it weren’t. But then they spin that truth in various …

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Downstream Emissions

A new court ruling could doom the Trump Administration’s ANWR plan.

A Ninth Circuit ruling yesterday overturned approval of offshore drilling in the Arctic. The ruling may directly impact the Trump Administration’s plans for oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). By requiring agencies to consider emissions when fossil fuels are ultimately burned, the Court of Appeal’s decision may also change the way that …

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Coal in 2019: A Tale of Decline

Like Canute & the ocean, Trump may wave his hands, but he can’t stop the tide.

Coal is just about the worst possible way of generating electricity in terms of its climate impacts. It’s also a serious public health hazard due to the particulates, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides it produces.  Thus, reducing the use of coal is a high priority.  How did we do in 2019? The short answer is …

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Is Socialism Good for the Environment?

The answer is: “Sometimes yes, sometimes not so much.”

Some of the people who are most fervent about the environment these days describe themselves as socialists.  But is socialism actually a good thing for the environment?  That seems like a significant question in a political context where people on both sides are throwing around the word “socialist” so much, so I decided to see …

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The Federal Government Has *Always* Shaped the Energy System

Obama was criticized for intruding the federal government into energy policy. But that’s nothing new.

To hear some of the debate, you’d think that the Obama Administration breached some longstanding barrier that left energy policy to the states and the market. If there ever was such a barrier, it disappeared over a century ago, with the onset of World War I.  Ever since then, the federal government has been actively …

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‘Let the Sunshine In’: The Fight for Solar in the Tar Heel State

Despite utility opposition and conservative state legislature, the law is slowly shifting toward solar energy.

In North Carolina, renewable energy is more a distant dream than a reality. The state has a modest renewable portfolio standard (10-12% by 2018 or 2021, depending on the utility). Right now, the state is at only about 7%, with the remainder split more or less equally between coal, gas and nuclear. It has old-fashioned …

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200 Days & Counting: State and Local Action

States and cities can do a lot to push back against Trump, but they do face some legal challenges.

In the Trump era, what avenues are open to state and local governments to use self-help to protect the environment? I’ve posted before about the opportunities for state and local governments taking action to protect their own environments. (here and here). Perhaps the most important recent development is the extension of California’s cap-and-trade program to …

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Surveying Climate Change Law

In only 25 years, a dynamic new field of law has taken root.

Climate Change Law, the first volume of Elgar’s Encyclopedia of Environmental Law has just appeared.  There are a number of excellent edited collections about aspects of climate change law. What distinguishes this one is that breadth of the coverage, including both international and domestic aspects of carbon reduction and adaptation to climate change. The book confirms how quickly climate change …

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Energy and the State of the Union

There’s quite a bit about energy in the State of the Union, including a discussion of the potential for natural gas and this about clean energy: We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. …

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A Better Day for Salmon on the Klamath River

Why would a major utility corporation agree to remove four of its hydroelectric power plants and pay hundreds of millions of dollars for the privilege?  As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, that is exactly what would happen under a tentative agreement between PacifiCorp and various other parties, including several American Indian tribes.  The dams in …

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