Air Quality

Is the Amazon Burning?

View of fire in the Amazon rainforest, near Abuna, Rondonia state, Brazil, on August 24, 2019. - President Jair Bolsonaro authorized Friday the deployment of Brazil's armed forces to help combat fires raging in the Amazon rainforest, as a growing global outcry over the blazes sparks protests and threatens a huge trade deal. (Photo by CARL DE SOUZA / AFP) (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

The current panic may not be justified, although long-term worries are

The environmental community is presently up in arms about fires in Brazil’s Amazon. The number of fires have dramatically increased over this time last year. A Greenpeace worker said, “This is not just a forest that is burning. This is almost a cemetery. Because all you can see is death.” France’s president Emmanuel Macron tweeted, […]

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Clearing the Air

The DC Circuit upholds a major air regulation.

On Friday, the D.C. Circuit decided Murray Energy v. EPA.  The court upheld EPA’s health-based 2015 air quality standards for ozone against challenges from industry (rules too strong) and environmental groups (rules too weak).  However, it rejected a grandfather clause that prevented the new standards from applying to plants whose permit applications were in-process when […]

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A Letter to My Fellow Boomers About Climate Change

We have met the enemy and he is us.

Polls show that a great many members of our generation oppose taking action against climate change.  I want to try to explain to that group why you should rethink your views.  Let me start by explaining why climate action would benefit you yourself and then widen the focus to include your grandchildren and their kids. […]

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Get Ready for Phase 2 of the Deregulation Wars

Air quality standards are next on the chopping block.

The first phase of Trump’s regulatory rollbacks has been directed against Obama’s climate change regulations.  Those deregulatory actions will be finalized soon.  What happens next will be in the hands of the courts. But the Trump EPA is now beginning a new phase in its attack on environmental regulation.  Having tried to eliminate climate rregulation, […]

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Justice Stevens and the Rule of (Environmental) Law

A simple but powerful principle: courts and agencies should respect statutes.

Justice Stevens and the Rule of (Environmental) Law There’s already been a lot written in the aftermath of Justice Stevens’s death, including Ann Carlson’s excellent Legal Planet post last week. I’d like to add something about an aspect of his jurisprudence that had great relevance to environmental law: his belief in the rule of law, […]

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Justice Gorsuch versus the Administrative State

Does the Gundy decision spell doom for modern government?

Gundy v. United States was a case involving a fairly obscure statute regulating sex offenders, but some have seen it as a harbinger of the destruction of the modern administrative state.  In a 4-1-3 split, the Court turned away a constitutional challenge based on a claim that Congress had delegated too much authority to the […]

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Guest Blogger Nick Bryner: Cooking the Books While Cooking the Planet: A First Look at the EPA’s ACE Rule

Final Rule Changes Baseline Assumptions & Approach to Cost-Benefit Analysis in Attempt to Justify Weak Standards

Yesterday, the Trump EPA released its long-awaited response to the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. At first glance, the final rule has been carefully crafted in an attempt to avoid several glaring legal vulnerabilities of the rule—and to obscure the obvious inadequacy of the Administration’s response to climate change. The EPA has found many contradictory ways […]

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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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Pollution Bursts and Public Health

EPA needs to give much more serious thought to controlling bursts of pollution.

When a facility installs and operates the required pollution control equipment, we normally think of the pollution problem as solved. But there still may be bursts of pollution associated with start-up, shut-down, accidents or external events.  A recent study of pollution in Texas shows that these events have substantial health impacts, involving significant deaths and […]

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Updates on the War on Science

The Trump Administration continues its campaign to suppress science.

The Trump Administration’s hostile attitude toward science has continued unabated.  The Administration has used a triad of strategies: efforts to defund research, suppression of scientific findings, and embrace of fringe science.    Budget.Administration continues to favor deep cuts in research support.  Its initial 2020 budget proposal calls for  a 13% cut to the National Science Foundation, a 12% cut at […]

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