water pollution

The Quagmire of Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

The scope of federal jurisdiction over water bodies and wetlands remains as murky as ever.

The Biden Administration announced on Monday that it would not meet a February target date to issue a revised definition of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. It still plans to issue a revised definition later in the year. That sounds like a very technical issue. But it actually determines the extent to which …

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Everyday Christmas: The Gift of the Commons

Clean air. Clean water. We receive these public goods every day without payment

One of the Christmas classics is the Jimmy Stewart movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey, Stewart’s character, is despondent about his life but then learns how much he has unknowingly helped others and how grateful they are. It’s heartwarming, if also a bit corny. There’s a flip side to that story: the need to remember …

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Another Casualty of US Withdrawal from the WHO: The Environment

Unbeknownst to many, the WHO does important work on pollution problems.

Withdrawing from international cooperation in the midst of global pandemic is an idea that’s just as bad as it sounds.  President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the WOrld Health Organization (WHO) withdrawal will also be harmful in other ways. Notably, a major component of the WHO’s work involves the health impacts of pollution and dangerous …

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Here Today, Gone to Maui

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Environment-Friendly Ruling in Major Clean Water Act Case

This week the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the Court’s most important environmental law case of the current Term: County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund.  In a somewhat surprising ruling, the justices rejected both sides’ argument over the scope of government authority to regulate water pollution discharges under the federal Clean Water …

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Putting the Squeeze on Coal

It’s not enough to eliminate coal-fired plants. We have to cut back on coal production and sale.

Coal use by American utilities has declined sharply and will continue to decline. But we shouldn’t focus solely on U.S. emissions. But the industry also exports coal, and there’s been a big surge in coal exports in the past two years, much of it involving India. So it’s not enough to curtail coal use in …

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Trump’s Budget Cuts: Even Worse Than You Thought

As you dive into the details, things keep looking worse.

Trump is proposing huge cuts to EPA and other agencies. That’s bad enough. We’re beginning to learn more details, and the message is grim.  While these cuts may not emerge from Congress at the end of the day, they do express the Administration’s goals. In particular, they demonstrate that the Administration is deeply hostile to environmental science and …

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A Coalition of the Willing

States need to work together to make progress happen in the age of Trump.

In the short time since the election, it’s already become a truism that state governments will have to keep the flame alive for environmental protection. But it’s not just individual state governments. It’s also crucial for states to work together. There’s been a lot of loose talk about “Calexit” out here. Secession is unconstitutional. (As …

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Rio’s Dirty Water

Everyone seems to be talking about the pollution in Guanabara Bay

With the Opening Ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics set for tomorrow night, the world’s attention is turned to Brazil. For someone with a great love for the country, it is disheartening to see the series of articles in the run-up to the Olympics emphasizing the negatives—challenges due to political turmoil, security concerns, the Zika …

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A Minor Christmas Miracle from Congress

Somehow, Congress managed to pass a pro-environmental law. Amazing!

Just before Christmas, the NY Times reported that Congress passed the Microbead Free Waters Act of 2015. The law bans nearly invisible small beads that have been added as abrasives to products like toothpaste.  The trouble is that the beads get into waterways, where pollutants like PCBs adhere to their surfaces.  Even more amazingly, the bill …

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The Coal Mining Stream Buffer Rule Evokes Firestorm of Protest. #getagrip

Political polarization has gotten to the point where there would be immediate denunciations if the President issued a proclamation honoring apple pie. Another intrusion into consumer choice, besmirching those who prefer cherry and pumpkin!  Another blatant overreach by an out-of-control, incipient tyrant!  Not only is every executive action accompanied by loud resistance, but the same explosion of …

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