NEPA

A Taste of Things to Come

Welcome to 2023. It’s going to be a wild ride.

In the past week, we’ve gotten a glimpse of what the next two years will look like. On the one hand, chaos in Congress. On the other hand, quiet progress toward environmental goals by the Biden Administration.  Both trends are likely to continue throughout this Congress and the second half of the presidential term. The …

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National Parks, Climate Change, and Active Management

When should park managers response to fire risk and climate change through active management?

This summer, the Earth Island Institute filed a lawsuit challenging active management projects in Yosemite National Park – those projects involve the cutting of trees to reduce the risk of fire (or that is the explanation of the National Park Service for the projects).  The tree cutting was begun this past year, and the National …

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The Side Deal

How would the Manchin-Schumer deal on permitting impact the environment?

To get Manchin’s vote for the $379 billion in environmental spending in the IRA bill, Schumer and other congressional leaders had to agree to support Manchin’s efforts  to speed up the permit system. At this point, all we have is a one-page list of permitting changes that would form the basis of a new bill. …

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What the Supreme Court Left Standing

No, the Court didn’t eliminate EPA’s ability to fight climate change.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the West Virginia case left many people with the impression that it eliminated the government’s power to regulate carbon emissions. There are quite a number of areas of climate law that the Supreme Court has left untouched. Here’s the EPA authority the Court hasn’t touched: EPA’s jurisdiction over greenhouse gases.  …

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Whose Interests Count? And How Much?

Whether to consider harms to foreign countries and future generations is controversial. So is how much weight to give harm to the poor.

Should regulators take into account harm to people in other countries? What about harm to future generations? Should we give special attention when the disadvantaged are harmed? These questions are central to climate policy and some other important environmental issues. I’ll use cost-benefit analysis as a framework for discussing these issues. You probably don’t need …

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An Abundance Research Agenda

If we need to build lots of things fast to address climate and housing crises, how will we do that?

There’s been a lot of buzz about this column by Ezra Klein in the New York Times.  Klein’s basic argument: We need to do a lot of infrastructure and other development projects to make the world a better place.  For example, we’ll need to build power lines and renewable projects to address climate change.  But …

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Biden Undoes NEPA Rollback

Trump tried to keep climate change out of environmental impact statements. Biden was right to scotch that effort.

Yesterday, the White House undid an effort by the Trump Administration to undermine the use of environmental impact statements. The pre-Trump rules had been in effect since 1978. Restoring the 1978 version was the right thing to do. The Trump’s rules arbitrarily limited the scope of the environmental effects that EPA can consider.  Their goal …

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Pipelines, Emissions and FERC

From now on, carbon emissions from new pipelines will be one of FERC’s key concerns.

On Friday there were two seismic shocks in the world of gas pipeline regulation. FERC has spent years resisting pressure to change the way it licenses new gas pipelines. A whole point of a natural gas pipeline is to deliver the gas to users who will burn it, thereby releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. FERC …

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Debating Environmental Racism in the Ninth Circuit

A recent case occasioned a sharp exchange about accusation of environmental racism.

 Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. FAA is a Ninth Circuit opinion decided before the Thanksgiving break. It involved to a legal challenge to the FAA’s refusal to prepare a full-scale environmental impact statement before approving a major Amazon distribution center at the San Bernardino airport. I probably wouldn’t have read the decision …

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U.C. Davis School of Law Hosts “CEQA at 50” Conference on April 16th

CEQA at 50 logo

Virtual Event Commemorates Past, Predicts Future of the California Environmental Quality Act

Now a half-century old, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) remains California’s most important, cross-cutting and controversial environmental law.  Originally patterned on the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act, CEQA has over the decades become a more powerful law than its federal counterpart.  And while numerous other states have adopted their own “little NEPA” statutes, CEQA …

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