environmental federalism

Climate Action in the States

Climate progress continued despite Trump

Trump’s election in 2016 didn’t halt or even slow action in the states on renewable energy and climate change.  Things have hit “pause” during the pandemic, but that should be only temporary. All of this ferment at the state level should help lay the groundwork for future federal action.  Here’s what’s been happening in some …

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Utah’s Stealth Climate Plan

Here’s some upbeat news. I bet you needed that.

Hardly anyone noticed at the time, but Utah enacted an important bill about climate change in 2018. Yes, Utah – where the GOP holds 78% of the legislature. How that happened, and what happened since, is a story worth telling. The bill itself did not impose any carbon restrictions.  But it did call for “the …

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Principles of Climate Governance

We need to address the procedures and structures for climate policymaking.

There’s a lot of discussion about the substance of climate policy today.  That’s obviously critical, but we also need to think about the procedural and institutional issues involved in making climate policy.  For instance, we need to think about how to divide authority between the states and the federal government.  I thought it would be …

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Is the Sun Finally Rising in the Southeast?

Slowly, and a bit grudgingly, the Old South is moving toward solar.

Southern states like to brag about their sunny weather.  Florida even calls itself the Sunshine State.  Yet the region lags well behind in terms of putting that sunshine to work. But it appears that change is coming.  Solar generating capacity in the Southeast is expected to nearly double over the next three years, though from …

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Good News from the States: April 2019 Roundup

While the Feds backpedal, the states move forward on clean energy.

Every day seems to bring more news of the Trump Administration’s dogged efforts to reduce environmental protections and accelerate climate change with increased carbon emissions.  But, as has been true since Trump took office, the picture at the state level is much different.  State governments across the country have accelerated their efforts to decarbonize, while …

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Strong Regs, Spotty Enforcement

Environmental enforcement could use a big boost.

The political debate over regulation tends to focus on the regulations themselves. But enforcing the regulations is just as important. Despite what you might think from the howls of business groups and conservative commentators, the enforcement system is not nearly as strong as it should be. Twenty years after passage of the Clean Water Act, roughly …

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The Case Against Sulking

States will only lose out if they refuse to cooperate with the Clean Power Plan.

Mitch McConnell has urged states to refuse to submit plans if the Clean Power Plan is upheld by the Court.  He has been accused of inciting lawless behavior on the part of state governments.  Let me come to his defense on this.  (How often do I get to do that??) The states are under no legal obligation …

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Mass. v. EPA bears fruit for environmental petitioners

Court rules that EPA must decide if new water quality standars are needed to protect the Gulf of Mexico

Cross-posted at CPRBlog. A US District Court in Louisiana recently ruled, in Gulf Restoration Network v. Jackson, that EPA must decide whether it has to impose new water quality standards for nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River watershed. Although that might seem far afield from the Supreme Court’s greenhouse gas emissions decision in Massachusetts v. …

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