environmental justice

Inequality and the Coronavirus

Everyone is at risk, but some more than others.

It’s a truism among disaster experts that people who were disadvantaged before a disaster are also the most vulnerable during the disaster.  There are aspects of the coronavirus pandemic that fit this mold.  Here are some of the disparities we can expect to see. Rural v. Urban. Much of our economic growth and job opportunity …

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Commemorating the National Environmental Policy Act’s 50th Anniversary

Celebrating NEPA: America’s Most Transformative, Overarching & Catalytic Environmental Law

On a snowy New Year’s Day in 1970–50 years ago today–then-President Richard Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act.  NEPA’s passage marked the beginning of America’s modern environmental law era.  It  was followed by Congressional passage of a series of other federal environmental laws over the next decade–major statutes that to this day …

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An Oil and Gas Setback in Los Angeles Would Not Create Billions in Liability

A recent report from the Petroleum Administrator relied on incorrect and incomplete legal assumptions about the City’s potential liability to oil and gas operators. Here’s why it matters.

This week, Sean Hecht and I (in our capacity as attorneys in the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic at UCLA School of Law) sent a letter on behalf of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust to Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, and the Los Angeles City Council. (Our letter built …

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LA Metro’s Transit to Parks Strategic Plan

A beneficial but incomplete solution to address lack of access to open spaces for disadvantaged communities

I previously wrote about the potential to generate greater support for environmental initiatives, by improving community engagement with the natural environment. One mechanism to improve community engagement in this manner is quite simple: make it easier for people to access parks and open spaces by public transit. Access is a widespread issue in Los Angeles, …

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Trump Administration’s Quiet Policy Change Could More Than Double Hazardous Air Pollution in California

Change in MACT applicability could result in 935 additional tons of toxic pollution emitted by stationary sources in the state each year

Earlier this year, EPA made a major policy change in how the agency evaluates stationary sources of hazardous air pollutants in a memorandum quietly issued without any warning or opportunity for public comment. This policy change was promptly challenged by California and two different coalitions of environmental and community groups (one suit was filed by …

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UCLA’s Environmental Law Clinic Files Brief on Behalf of Amici League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties

Brief defends local government authority to regulate oil drilling in face of industry challenge

[Update: The Second District Court of Appeal, Division 5 has rejected all the amicus curiae brief applications filed in this case, including this brief. We will leave this post, and the link to the brief, up on this blog so that anyone interested may see our arguments, but the brief will not be considered in …

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Does the Clean Air Act Mask One of Our Worst Remaining Air Pollution Problems?

New Article Addresses Hot Spot Pollution and the Clean Air Act

Over the last fifty years, we have made huge progress in cleaning up the nation’s air.  Overall pollution levels have dropped by 70 percent since the 1970s, cars are 99 percent cleaner, and we’ve essentially eliminated lead from the atmosphere. The Clean Air Act is the main reason for this success, saving countless lives and …

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Responsibility for Historic Harm

Tort law embodies our society’s view of fairness. What does teach us about climate change?

Is it fair to hold companies responsible for past emissions, even if they didn’t know at the time the emissions were harmful? Shouldn’t it be a defense that they didn’t appreciate the risk at the time?Not if tort law is any guide. Tort law imposes liability for ongoing harm even though a company did not …

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House Subcommittee Considering Clean Air Act Amendments to Weaken Bedrock of Stationary Source Permitting

Proposed changes to NSR could have significant impact on EJ communities

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment is currently considering amendments designed to weaken the New Source Review permitting program. The GOP proposal has been floating around since a discussion draft was released in May based on a bill introduced last year by Rep.  Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), but seems to have flown under the radar until …

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Tribal Fishing/Environmental Justice Rights Prevail After Supreme Court Ruling

Justice Kennedy’s Recusal Proves Decisive in Preserving Tribes’ Legal Victory

Perhaps the most consequential environmental case of the rapidly-concluding U.S. Supreme Court Term ended this week with a whimper rather than a bang: in a curt one-sentence order, the Court ruled that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ earlier decision in Washington v. United States “is affirmed by an equally divided Court.” The justices split 4-to-4 on …

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