Disaster Law

Cost-Benefit Analysis and Deep Uncertainty

How should agencies take into account “the things we know we don’t know”?

Since 1981, cost-benefit analysis (CBA) has been at the core of the rule making process.  OIRA, the so-called “regulatory czar” in the White House, must approve every significant regulation based on a review of its CBA.  But CBA has had a major blind spot. It embodies techniques for analyzing possible harmful outcomes when the probability …

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Climate Adaptation Moves Toward Center Stage

There’s an increasing bipartisan move to fund climate resilience.

The big news today is the deal with Manchin to  provide billions of dollars of funding for clean energy. Manchin’s vote will be needed because no Republican Senator will vote for the bill.  In contrast, funding for climate resilience has drawing power even for Republicans. It seems to be true that, in Bob Dylan’s words …

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Risky Business

Climate Change and the Insurance Sector

Founded in 1871, the National Association of Insurance Commission represents insurance regulators in all fifty states. It’s not a particularly woke group – the current president is the Director of the Idaho Department of Insurance. However, the group has just issued a new “voluntary” survey for insurance companies about climate risks. “Voluntary” is in quotes …

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Wildfires, CEQA, Climate Change & the Courts

Recent Court Decisions Halt Building Projects, Invalidate CEQA Reviews for Failing to Assess Wildfire Hazards

Environmental and conservation groups have for a number of years attempted to convince California courts of the need to integrate climate change considerations into environmental analyses prepared under the state’s most important environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  However, the California judiciary has demonstrated little appetite for doing so.  Until now. Recently, courts …

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Rescuing FEMA (and ourselves)

FEMA needs to grow in order to handle its work. The need for growth will only get greater as time goes on.

2021 was a year of disasters, with extraordinary heat waves, fires, a string of hurricanes, a  cold snap that left Texas in the dark, winter tornados, and torrential rains. FEMA has been left badly overstretched. That’s an urgent problem, and it’s likely a foretaste of the future. This is not just a problem for the …

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Facing Up to Reality

More frequent heat waves. Droughts. Wildfires. The West is getting a glimpse of its future climate.

The western U.S. is staring climate change in the face. Most of the West is experiencing “severe” or “exceptional” drought. We could be heading into the worst drought period in centuries. Major dam reservoirs are down to record low levels. The region is also in the grips of a record-breaking heatwave.  We can expect another …

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What Have We Learned from Recent Disasters?

Disasters are getting bigger, badder, and less predictable. We need to adjust.

Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. California wildfires.  Superstorm Sandy.  The great Texas blackout. The list goes on. These mega-events dramatize the need to improve our disaster response system.  The trends are striking: escalating disaster impacts, more disaster clustering, more disaster cascades, and less predictability.  We need to up our game.  Lisa Grow Sun and I discuss …

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Guest Contributors Leeza Arbatman, Michael Cohen, and Shawna Strecker: New California Bills Provide Pathway for Local Wildfire Risk Reduction in Southern California

Smoke from Bobcat Fire, San Gabriel Mountains

SB 85 and SB 63 create opportunities for wildfire prevention strategies proposed by UCLA California Environmental Legislation and Policy Clinic

We are students in UCLA Law’s California Environmental Legislation and Policy Clinic, a course in which students work with legislative staff in the California State Legislature to advance environmental policy goals. In Fall 2020, working with staff for State Senator Henry Stern, we developed recommendations for local government efforts to manage wildfire risk. Now, new …

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The Big Chill

What went wrong in Texas and what can we learn from it?

The rolling blackouts in Texas were national news. Texas calls itself the energy capital of the United States, yet it couldn’t keep the lights on. Conservatives were quick to blame reliance on wind power, just as they did last summer when California faced power interruptions due to a heat wave.  What really happened? It’s true …

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Hitching a Ride on the Omnibus

In a holiday gift from Congress, environmental gains arrive in an overstuffed spending bill.

The massive omnibus bill that just passed Congress contains a bevy of environment friendly provisions.  Despite some last-minute tweeted complaints from Trump about the bill, those provisions are likely to make their way into law. Given that the Senate and the White House are in Republican hands,  it’s a wonder when such provisions sneak through …

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