Air Quality

50 Years Ago: Environmental Law in 1973

Five decades back, the country was in the midst of unprecedented environmental ferment.

1973 was at the crest of the environmental surge that swept the United States half a century ago.  In the previous three years, Congress had passed NEPA, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act. The first EPA Administrator took office in 1971. Continuing the legislative wave, 1973 saw the passage of the Endangered …

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Unraveling Hydrogen: Part I

The first in a series that examines the hype around hydrogen production.

For over a century, supporters of hydrogen energy have billed H2 as the fuel of the future. In his 1874 novel, The Mysterious Island, Jules Verne wrote that “water will one day be employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen which constitute it, used singly or together, will furnish an inexhaustible source of heat and …

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Learning to Name Environmental Problems

It was only in the 1960s that the Supreme Court learned to talk about “pollution” and “wilderness.”

There are Supreme Court cases going back a century or more dealing with what we would now consider environmental issues such as preserving nature or air pollution. But when did the Court start seeing filthy rivers and smokey cities as embodiments of the same problem, despite their striking physical differences?  And when it did start …

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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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Keep on Trucking

A new rule will clean up exhaust from new diesels, a major health threat.

Last week, EPA finalized its new rule imposing emission limits on new heavy trucks. The new regulation was clearly a massive undertaking. EPA’s formal announcement of the new rule is 1100 pages long. The accompanying summary of comments on the proposed rule and EPA’s responses is another 2000 pages. This is partly due to the …

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UCLA Environmental Law Clinic Students’ Work Used in Litigation for Improved Refinery Monitoring

East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, represented by Earthjustice, filed a petition drafted by UCLA ELC students

On Monday, environmental-justice advocates filed a petition drafted by two of our amazing UCLA Environmental Law Clinic students, Sarah Repko and Monica Heger, opening litigation to improve monitoring of petroleum refineries in Southern California. This spring, Sarah and Monica had the exciting opportunity to work with Earthjustice’s Community Partnerships program to prepare litigation enforcing state …

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Not The Winds Of Change We Wanted

Bombay’s recent air quality crisis shows us our future

For several years, India’s capital of Delhi has been synonymous with awful air quality: just living there is the equivalent of smoking nearly 2,000 cigarettes a year. So it shocked me when the Indian Express reported that last week, Bombay’s air was even worse than Delhi’s. Delhi’s AQI last week was an abysmal 263; but …

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The Supreme Court’s Earliest Pollution Cases

Long before Congress, a notoriously conservative Court started taking pollution seriously.

Well over a century ago, the Supreme Court ruled that it had that power to remedy interstate water pollution. That was in 1901. Six years later, the Court decided its first air pollution case.  Notably, these cases came during the conservative Lochner era when the Court was hardly known for its liberalism.  Quite the contrary. …

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California’s Secret Weapon: The Scoping Plan

There’s no substitute for a comprehensive policy vision.

The scoping process has been key to California’s success in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.  The process requires the government to assess past progress, project future emissions, and come up with a strategy to meet its climate goals.  In contrast, in many states – and at the federal level – there’s no real mechanism for a …

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EPA Proposes Rejection of San Joaquin Valley Air District PM2.5 SIP Submittal

Emmett Institute White Paper Cited to Demonstrate Proposal’s Insufficiency

Earlier this month, EPA announced its proposed disapproval of San Joaquin Valley’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) submittal to address fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution. Among EPA’s reasons for proposing disapproval of the plan: The strategies to reduce building heating emissions—from things like water heaters and space heaters—were inadequate because they failed to consider zero-emission standards. …

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