environmental politics

Climate Change in the General Election

How much talk about climate are we likely to hear?

Climate change has surfaced as an issue in the Democratic primaries much more than it has in past elections. What’s likely to happen in the general election? Start with Trump. Given his freeform speaking style, he’s likely to at least touch on climate change and fossil fuels from time to time. The question is how …

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Remember “Beautiful, Clean Coal”? Trump Apparently Doesn’t.

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but Trump has stopped talking about coal.

One of Trump’s iconic campaign photos showed him with a sign saying “Trump Digs Coal.”  He vowed to bring back the coal industry. Even after his election, he delighted in photo ops with coal miners ( many of whom turned out to be coal company executives) wearing their helmets. But those days are gone. I …

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Deferred Planetary Maintenance

It’s easy to put off long-term problems when there’s a crisis.  Much too easy, actually.

Long-term problems get short shrift in a crisis. That’s true of infrastructure repair; it’s also true of climate change.  Like deferred maintenance, climate change just gets bigger the longer it’s put off. I often see the fruits of deferred maintenance on the Berkeley campus. Building conditions are a huge problem at Berkeley. Whenever there’s a …

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Seven Months to Election Day (and Counting)

You may have forgotten, but the clock is still ticking.

You may not have been focused on this, but there will be a Presidential election seven months from today.  The stakes are enormous for environmental law.  In fact, those stakes can be measured in megatons of carbon.  There’s no question about Trump’s approach to environmental regulation. As of the beginning of this year, ninety-five environmental rollbacks …

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Does Being Conservative Have to Mean Ignoring Risks?

Florida’s Ron DeSantis doesn’t seem to think so.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shows that it’s possible to be a staunch conservative and still be honest about the risks of climate change and the coronavirus.

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The Right Wing’s Views of Coronavirus and Climate Change

There’s a common theme: “nothing to worry about, folks.”

It’s interesting to see what conservative think tanks are saying about the coronavirus and compare it with their views on climate change.  There are some common themes — both problems tend to get downplayed, along with any possible need for major government action.  Like Trump himself, the conservative think tanks seem unable to process scientific …

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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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Can the Center Hold?

The Challenge to Mainstream Environmentalism

Is environmentalism facing a paradigm shift? Since the 1970s, mainstream environmentalists, lawyers, and scholars have sought incremental progress based on established law and political realities. But frustration with that approach is palpable. The face of climate advocacy is now seventeen-year-old activist Greta Thunberg rather than Establishment politician Al Gore. And there is growing frustration with …

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Looking Ahead: Inauguration Day, 2021.

There are 3 plausible scenarios for the new balance of power.

Inauguration day is a year from today.   What will the balance of power be then?  The House doesn’t seem to be in play.  Democrats have an uphill fight to win the Senate,  so a GOP White House would probably mean a GOP Senate.  That leaves three likely scenarios, with different implications for environmental law. Scenario …

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Congress Mandates Pentagon Climate Action

The GOP’s climate denial doesn’t extend to DOD.

Everyone says climate laws can never pass Congress.  But there’s a major exception. Each year since Trump took office, Congress has passed climate legislation as part of Defense Department spending. Trump has signed all of those laws.  In 2017, there was a congressional finding that climate change is a threat to national security.  In 2018, …

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