Energy

Bold But Realistic Climate Actions

Here’s what a new President could actually do.

What options are available to a new President taking office in 2021?  Let’s assume a favorable scenario for climate action in which Dems take unified control of the government (White House, Senate, House) in 2021.  What then? The first theme to keep in mind is that the Democrats will still be subject to some significant …

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Charging Consumers for Imaginary Power Needs

FERC is distorting energy markets in the name of perfect competition.

Last year, the GOP majority on FERC decided that state clean energy policies were distorting energy markets in the country’s largest grid region.  Because they provided incentives for power producers, FERC ruled, those policies should be considered subsidies. It directed grid operators to introduce new policies to counter those subsidies and halt the dreadful onslaught …

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Climate Change and the Financial Industry

How is one of the world’s largest industries responding to climate change?

As of 2018, the U.S. financial industry contributed $1.5 trillion to GDP.  How is the financial sector responding to climate change?  The short answer is “slowly so far, but there are signs of progress.” For instance, just last Friday, the NY Times reported that European Central Bank began a strategy review with climate change on …

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Pricing Carbon: What Does It Actually Accomplish?

Pricing carbon may not work the way economists thought.

In theory, pricing carbon should incentivize emissions reductions.  In reality, it is unclear to what extent that takes place unless the carbon price is very high.  This is not to say that pricing carbon is useless, but the main benefits may take different forms. Basically, there are two ways of putting a price on carbon.  …

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Looking Ahead: Inauguration Day, 2021.

There are 3 plausible scenarios for the new balance of power.

Inauguration day is a year from today.   What will the balance of power be then?  The House doesn’t seem to be in play.  Democrats have an uphill fight to win the Senate,  so a GOP White House would probably mean a GOP Senate.  That leaves three likely scenarios, with different implications for environmental law. Scenario …

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Juliana and the Future of Climate Litigation

Asking judges to pass judgment on all U.S. energy policy was a bridge too far.

The Ninth Circuit threw out the Juliana litigation this morning.  The two judges in the majority basically said,  legalistic language, that you can’t get the Green New Deal by court order. It was wrong for the Supreme Court to step in at the last minute to put the trial on hold, rather than giving the …

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We Can’t Count on Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Prevent Dangerous Climate Change

Last week’s climate summit yielded little in the way of action. Photo via UNFCCC.

Although reducing emissions remains essential, it is time to focus on additional responses

Last month, representatives of all countries gathered for their annual meeting to prevent climate change. Despite the motto “Time for Action,” the New York Times described it as “one of the worst outcomes in a quarter-century of climate negotiations.” Should we be surprised? Disappointed? Despairing? I believe that insufficient cuts in greenhouse gas emissions — …

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Revolt of the Captive Scientists

Trump’s Scientific Advisory Board Slams Proposed EPA Rules

Trump has appointed  most of the members of EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), many of them selected from industry. That effort to stack SAB in favor of deregulation apparently wasn’t a complete success. In draft reports issued this week, the SAB scathingly criticized those efforts and even went so far as to give a nod …

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Bright Spots of 2019 (Yes, there were some!)

A bad year in many ways, but with promising signs for the future.

It’s been a tumultuous and often grim year in terms of environmental protection. The Trump Administration continued its onslaught against environmental protection, completing major regulatory rollbacks. Nevertheless, there were some rays of sun through the darkening clouds. State Initiatives.  Progress as the state level continued, as it has throughout the Trump Administration.  New York State …

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An Oil and Gas Setback in Los Angeles Would Not Create Billions in Liability

A recent report from the Petroleum Administrator relied on incorrect and incomplete legal assumptions about the City’s potential liability to oil and gas operators. Here’s why it matters.

This week, Sean Hecht and I (in our capacity as attorneys in the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic at UCLA School of Law) sent a letter on behalf of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust to Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, and the Los Angeles City Council. (Our letter built …

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