NEPA

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Decision in Monsanto case

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision today in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms,   a case involving Monsanto’s efforts to introduce Roundup Ready Alfalfa, a genetically modified crop engineered to tolerate the herbicide Roundup.   The Court, on a 7-1 vote (Stevens dissenting, Bryer recused), held in favor of Monsanto but did so in a way …

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We’ve Known the Risks in the Gulf for Forty Years

We’ve known all along that offshore drilling in the Gulf placed at risk exceptionally valuable and sensitive coastal areas.  We need look no further than a forty-year-old court decision on Gulf oil drilling, which made the dangers abundantly clear. In 1971, President Nixon announced a new energy plan involving greatly expanded offshore drilling.  In a …

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Will the BP Oil Spill Change Public Policy?

The oil spill catastrophe now engulfing the Gulf Coast brings home in incredibly vivid detail the ways in which human activity can damage the earth.  This is in stark contrast to climate change, for example, where the changes caused by accumulating greenhouse gas emissions are hard to see and where actions today will only affect the …

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EPA (indirectly) wins a turf war

Think the executive branch is one big happy family under the benevolent direction of (any) president? Think again. Power struggles over turf and substantive outcomes are frequent, and success in those struggles depends on a lot more than just who has the ear of the president at the moment. Sometimes it takes litigation, which has …

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Ninth Circuit reinstates Clinton roadless rule

Since the end of the Clinton era, there has been much confusion over the status of roadless areas in the national forests. Yesterday the Ninth Circuit weighed in, ruling in California v. USDA that the Bush administration had unlawfully revised the Clinton administration’s Roadless Rule, and reinstating that rule. The decision, which has been welcomed …

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An Invitation to Review the Supreme Court’s Environmental Record

This has been a blockbuster year in the U.S. Supreme Court for environmental law and policy. In the Term that concludes this month, the justices have decided five major environmental cases, involving many of the nation’s most important environmental laws. Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE), one of the sponsors of …

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Confronting Uncertainty Under NEPA

Quantifying risks with confidence is often difficult. For the past thirty years, agencies and courts have struggled with the treatment of uncertainty in environmental impact statements. This problem is all the more important today. Climate change will require innovative solutions – new energy technologies, new adaptation strategies. These innovations will inevitably pose risks, often in …

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Updating the Delta litigation line-up

The era of collaboration and cooperation that CalFed briefly brought to management of California’s water system is well and truly over. Lawsuits are multiplying like rabbits, promising to provide full employment for water and natural resource lawyers in California for the foreseeable future. For those of you scoring at home, here are some of the …

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Climate Change and Environmental Impact Statements

Government agencies are struggling with how to fit climate change into the process of environmental review.  At one level, this is a no-brainer.  Greenhouse gases contribute to climate change, and climate change is the biggest environmental impact of all.  But as always, the devil is in the details. 

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Rediscovering the Lost Promise of NEPA

NEPA — the National Environmental Policy Act — is the forgotten elderly relative of environmental law.  Its requirement of environmental impact statements is now frequently avoided by a clever workaround.  Rather than issuing an environmental impact statement, an agency adopts mitigation measures that are supposed to reduce the legal of environmental impacts below the trigger …

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