The benefits of the energy transition transcend climate.
The main reason to control carbon is to protect the climate. But cleaning up the energy system has plenty of other benefits. Those benefits will flow to people in rural areas as well as urban ones, to national security and international development, and to nature itself. To begin with, there are the health benefits of …CONTINUE READING
Unless amended or carefully implemented, there’s a risk the law could hurt the communities it’s meant to serve.
New York has enacted what may be the country’s most stringent environmental justice law. The state deserves credit for its commitment to remedying the unfair pollution burdens placed on disadvantaged communities. The law is so broadly worded, however, that it may have the potential to prevent economic development that would aid those communities, or even …CONTINUE READING
Yes, the new NY law includes some bans on natural gas. That’s far from all it does.
Last week, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed major climate legislation. Press coverage focused on one small piece of the legislation: a partial ban on natural gas use in new buildings. That’s controversial and easily grasped by the public. But a much bigger part of the new law went almost unnoticed: the legislature’s endorsement of …CONTINUE READING
Two upcoming Supreme Court decisions will tell us a lot about the answer.
On Halloween, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) against Harvard and UNC. These cases seem likely to move the Court closer to requiring colorblindness. How would that impact EPA’s ability to pursue environmental justice? Based on comments of the Justices during the arguments in the Harvard …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
Coal is a dirty fuel. It’s not just air pollution or climate change.
EPA proposed new regulations next week to reduce the water pollution impacts of coal-fired power plants. As EPA regulations go, these count as fairly minor. They got a bit of news coverage in coal country and industry publications. But they will eliminate the discharge of thousands of tons of pollutants, including a lot of metals …CONTINUE READING
Black figures played a role in the early years of environmentalism, before it even had a name.
Yesterday was the start of Black History Month. Last year, I posted about the contributions made by Black climate scientists. This year, I want to go back earlier in history to highlight the environmental contributions of three Black figures in much earlier times. The earliest of these figures was Solomon Brown, who was born in …CONTINUE READING
The environmental justice movement is now 40 years old. Its influence is only growing.
Dr. King died in 1968, and the Civil Rights Movement had already been a powerful national presence for well over a decade. Yet it was fourteen more years until environmental justice entered the national spotlight. Environmental justice issues first received widespread attention in 1982 when protests erupted over the construction of a new waste disposal …CONTINUE READING
Climate Change, Water Rights, Environmental Justice & Federalism Issues Highlighted the Ninth Circuit’s Prodigious Environmental Docket This Year
I’ve shared in previous posts my view that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is–after the U.S. Supreme Court–the most influential court in the nation when it comes to environmental and natural resources law. That’s true for two related reasons: first, the sprawling Ninth Circuit encompasses nine different states (including California) and …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING