When are markets appropriate tools for sustainably managing groundwater?

New report from Berkeley Law’s CLEE outlines critical considerations for local groundwater markets under SGMA

Locals implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) are rapidly turning from questions about who will manage groundwater and how they should approach institutional design to next-level questions: What does sustainability mean for a particular basin, and how will local managers achieve it? One of many potential management tools is a local groundwater market. SGMA opens the door …


What Is An Externality?

And Could the Leading Property Text Have Gotten It Wrong?

The idea of an externality is fundamental to environmental law and policy — and indeed, to just about any aspect of the common law (at least outside criminal law, and maybe even there). When I teach first-year Property law, I have to introduce the concept pretty early on in the course, as I imagine most …


Why the Environment Requires Government Protection: Some Simple Economics

The key to understanding the economics of environmental protection is the concept of externalities.  An externality is simply a cost that one person or firm imposes on another. In general, an externality means that an activity is causing more harm than it should. Of course, a company or individual could decide to voluntarily correct the …


The story of the Price-Anderson Act: how Congress made nuclear power financially viable in the U.S. by eliminating accountability for risk

Ever wonder how nuclear power plants have been able to get financial backing in the U.S. despite the huge, and largely uncertain, potential risks they pose?  Or why there are nuclear plants within a few hours’ drive of major population centers such as Los Angeles and New York?  Or who will pay the costs that …


Counting the cost of coal

The Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School has a new report sort of out on the life-cycle costs of coal production and combustion. I say “sort of” out because the only document I’ve been able to find is a brief summary, without methods or references, posted by Ken Ward at …