It’s not just the White House. We also have to repair the way agencies operate.
Donald Trump prided himself on his contempt for established norms of presidential action. Whole books have been written about how to restore those norms. Something similar also happened deeper down in the government, out in the agencies like EPA that do the actual work of governance. Trump appointees have corrupted agencies and trashed the norms …CONTINUE READING
It will take years to fully recover from the damage of the Trump era. We will need some new ideas.
After almost four years of Trump, federal environmental protection is in about the same shape as Western Europe at the end of World War II, filled with bomb craters and destruction. If the election turns out in Biden’s favor, he will be faced with the task of rebuilding from the smoking ruins. Here are some …CONTINUE READING
The Trump Administration presents a barrage of threats to the environment. Which threats are worst?
This is the last in our series on the state of play concerning U.S. environmental protection at this point of the Trump Administration. We can classify threats along three dimensions: the likelihood of harm, the seriousness and irreversibility of the harm, and the irreversibility of the institutional or legal change. Here’s an assessment of our …CONTINUE READING
Don’t expect the Administration to take the lead in enforcement. Others will need to step up.
As the Bush Administration learned, it can be difficult to pass new legislation or enact new regulations. But another way of gutting environmental rules is much easier: just stop enforcing them. An agency’s enforcement decisions receive essentially no judicial review and precious little publicity. Cuts in enforcement budgets receive even less public notice and are …CONTINUE READING
What lawmakers expect isn’t necessarily what happens — sometimes for better, often for worse.
The public drama revolves around efforts to make and unmake environmental regulations. But as we all know, what statutes and rules say isn’t necessarily what happens on the ground. Often, the result is that environmental goals are frustrated. Deadlines are missed, standards are ignored or fudged, or enforcement efforts misfire. The result is incomplete implementation, …CONTINUE READING
New Berkeley Law report examines citizen actions addressing sanitary sewer overflows in California
(This post is co-authored with Nell Green Nylen and Michael Kiparsky.) Every day, Californians produce millions of gallons of wastewater. We tend to avoid thinking about what flows down our drains, but how we deal with sewage is a critically important aspect of public and environmental health. Most communities in California rely on an extensive …CONTINUE READING
How vulnerable will California’s cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions be to market manipulation, noncompliance, and fraud? Will the program’s public auctions of allowances serve a critical regulatory purpose, or are they just a big money grab? With about four months to go before the highly anticipated first auction, these questions are important and getting …CONTINUE READING
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that enforcement staff and managers (including the regional office director and an enforcement attorney) in Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were held personally liable for 6.5 million in damages relating to a series of enforcement actions against one company. MFS Inc., a manufacturer of industrial insulation and ceiling tiles, alleged that the four …CONTINUE READING
While some politicians have called publicly for the suspension of AB 32 until the economy recovers (see here and here for details), a more behind-the-scenes effort to undercut the implementation of California’s global warming bill is also taking place. The AB 32 Implementation Group (“IG”) says it “represents large and small business that are vital to …CONTINUE READING
We rightly celebrate large legislative environmental victories like the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Europeans, too, are proud of accomplishments such as the establishment of the European Union Emission Trading System to address greenhouse gas emissions through cap and trade and the passage of sweeping legislation, …CONTINUE READING