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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War and the Environment
War brings devastation to people’s lives. And to the planet itself.
This post was delayed due to a technical problem at Legal Planet, but it was originally scheduled for Memorial Day — an apt date to think about how wars, along with their other tragic costs, impact the environment. We are now in the process of ending our “Forever War” in Afghanistan. The country has been …
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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
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 $25 Million Question: How Sonoma County Can Spend Vegetation Management Funds to Bolster Wildfire Resilience
by Ethan Elkind, Ted Lamm, & Katie Segal
How would you spend $25 million to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire through vegetation management? Sonoma County leaders found themselves facing this question and enlisted UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) for help. Today, CLEE is releasing a report with specific recommendations for Sonoma County, which we …
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Conservative Judicial Activism Strikes Again
A wild-eyed misinterpretation of the commerce clause
A federal district judge ruled today that the federal government’s moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional. The judge’s theory is that evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent isn’t an “economic” activity. Therefore, it’s beyond Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. I know that sounds nuts, but that actually it is what the judge said. The judge’s theory …
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Three Ways of Dodging Responsibility
After disaster strikes, there are some tried-and-true ways of avoiding responsibility.
In the wake of the Texas blackouts, we’re seeing a number of familiar moves to deflect blame by the usual suspects–politicians, regulators, and CEOs. These evasive tactics all begin with a core truth: Eliminating all risk is impossible and would be too expensive even if it weren’t. But then they spin that truth in various …
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How Much Should Texas Invest in Grid Resilience?
The Texas blackouts provide a case study in how to think through resilience issues.
As we begin to think through the long-term response to the Texas blackout, there’s a lot we don’t yet know. The ultimate issues are how much resilience we need against events like this and how we should obtain it. It’s helpful to lay out the kinds of questions we need to be asking as we …
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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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The Global Convergence of Disaster Law and Climate Law
Two very distinct areas of international law are finding more and more in common.
International climate negotiations may seem to have little to do with the work of such international relief organizations as the Red Cross. On the national level, EPA and FEMA are two very different agencies that historically have had little connection. The same has been true at the international level. But disaster and climate authorities are …
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