Air Quality

Is 2025 the Year of the Carbon Tax?

Carbon border adjustment mechanisms are increasingly the talk of Washington. UCLA Law’s Kimberly Clausing explains some of the options on the table.

There’s a big, important tax debate looming next year—one with opportunities and risks for climate policy, particularly the idea of a carbon tax. It can be hard to see this debate thanks to the daily churn of the 2024 presidential election, but it’s there on the horizon if you squint. For one thing, we’ll likely …


Grid Experts Weigh in on EPA’s Good Neighbor Plan for NOx

UCLA Emmett Institute faculty submit amicus brief in Utah v. EPA, a major ozone case, on behalf of some of the nation’s leading grid experts.

Last year, EPA issued a new federal implementation plan to address interstate pollution from nitrous oxides under the Clean Air Act’s Good Neighbor Provision. The Good Neighbor Provision is designed to address interstate pollution: those instances where emissions from upwind states impose harms across state lines, effectively shifting the costs of controlling their pollution to …


The Supreme Court & Interstate Pollution

It was puzzling that the Court agreed to hear the case. How has it ruled? And why?

Months ago, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an “emergency” request to stay EPA’s new rule regulating interstate air pollution.  Like most observers, I was puzzled that the Court was bothering with the case before the D.C. Circuit even had a chance to consider the merits of the challenges. Months later, the Court has finally …


The Ten Most Important U.S. Environmental Laws

An image of the U.S. Capitol Building in the evening.

Some of the choices may surprise you.

What are America’s most important environmental laws? Some are familiar, such as the federal air and water pollution laws, and the Endangered Species Act. But there are other people rarely hear about — even in environmental law courses — but have done a lot to protect the environment.


Counting the Climate Costs of Warfare

There are calls for nations to disclose their military-related greenhouse gas emissions as researchers try to tally the climate impacts of war in Ukraine and Gaza.

What if I told you that nations around the world were ignoring a significant amount of their greenhouse gas emissions by omitting an entire dirty sector from their tally? Would you be horrified? Would you want to close that loophole so that parties to international agreements are required to report these hidden emissions as part …


Critical Insights on the Mineral Boom: Part II

A vision to ensure enforceable community benefits from mineral extraction: Insights from the Emmett Institute’s “Powering the Future” symposium.

“Voice, agency, and meaningful compensation.” Those are the things that California Tribal Affairs Secretary Christina Snider-Ashtari said must be granted in exchange to some communities bearing the brunt of the energy transition and the new mineral boom, as recounted in Part One of this series. All week, my colleagues and I are sharing summaries, outcomes, …


The Problems with the SCOTUS ‘Good Neighbor’ Arguments

Guest contributors Megan Herzog and Sean Donahue write that last week’s argument in the case of EPA’s Good Neighbor Rule shows the perils of agency rulemaking cases on the Supreme Court’s shadow docket.

Megan M. Herzog (former Emmett/Frankel Fellow at UCLA School of Law 2012-2016) and Sean H. Donahue are partners at Donahue, Goldberg & Herzog, which represents the Environmental Defense Fund, a Respondent-Intervenor in the Good Neighbor Rule litigation.   Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court did something it has done only three times in the last half-century—it heard …


Recentering Environmental Law: A Thought Experiment

If we had understood then what we know now. . . .

In 1965, scientists sent LBJ a memo mentioning the risks of climate change. Imagine if history had been a little different. Suppose it had been this memo and a follow-up report, rather than Rachel Carson’s attack on pesticides, that sparked the environmental movement. How would environmental law look different and how might we be thinking about …


The New Particulate Standard and the Courts

The tough new air quality standard is sure to be challenged in court. Winning the challenges will be tougher.

EPA has just issued a rule tightening the air quality standard for PM2.5 — the tiny particles most dangerous to health — from an annual average of 12 μg/m³  (micrograms per cubic meter) down to 9 μg/m³. EPA estimates that, by the time the rule goes into effect in 2032, it will avoid 4500 premature …


Interstate Pollution and the Supreme Court’s “Shadow Docket”

The Court considers whether to stay an EPA plan in light of changed circumstances.

Later this month, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument about whether to stay a plan issued by EPA to limit upwind states from creating ozone pollution that impacts other states.  As I wrote before the Court decided to hear the arguments, the issues here seem less than earthshaking, and for that matter, less than …