Energy

Funny, It Doesn’t Look Bluish

Strong Push for Renewables in the Land of Enchantment – But Is It a Bailout?

Although it reliably votes for Democratic Presidential candidates, has two Democratic United States Senators, and a trifecta of Democratic control in the state house, blue-state New Mexico is not usually thought of as a progressive environmental leader. The State Public Regulation Commission — one of only 13 directly elected by voters — has been plagued […]

Continue Reading

Bottoms-Up! An Emerging New Governance System (4)

We can think of the energy system as a kind of ecosystem, and renewables as an invasive species.

As I’ve discussed the earlier three posts in this series, it is possible to imagine a cycle of positive feedback, in which the history of past climate efforts increases the likelihood of future ones and even draws more jurisdictions into the effort. But it is also possible to imagine that bottom-up efforts might not catch […]

Continue Reading

Bottoms-Up! An Emerging New Governance System (3)

Bottom-up strategies can ultimately pave the road for stronger international agreement.

It is difficult to measure the extent of positive feedback between climate initiatives. But it seems evident that such feedback does exist. A major climate initiative in one jurisdiction seems to encourage climate action elsewhere. This makes climate action a more appealing prospect for any individual jurisdiction, because by acting it can increase climate actions […]

Continue Reading

Breaking Up with Fossil Fuels

It’s not us. It’s you.

WORLD: Thanks for the card. . . . But I think we need to talk. FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY: About what? W: About us. FFI: About us?? Can’t it wait until some other time? This is Valentine’s Day, and I’ve made plans for us.  Big plans. W: No, I think we need to get some things […]

Continue Reading

Is the Green New Deal’s Ambition Smart Policy?

Some Lessons from Environmental History

At the the heart of the Green New Deal — which demands slashing U.S. carbon emissions by 2030 by shifting to 100 percent clean energy  — is a major conundrum.  Even the most enthusiastic proponents of ambitious climate policy don’t believe the goals are achievable, technologically let alone politically.  Stanford Professor Marc Z. Jacobsen, for […]

Continue Reading

Bottoms-Up! An Emerging New Governance System (2)

Bottom-up appraches aren’t just fallbacks when top-down fails. They have their own strengths.

  There are some obvious advantages to top-down climate police, whereby a uniform global climate policy is adopted at the global level and then seamlessly implemented by nations, or whereby a similar process takes place at the national level.  Of course, this top-down model requires first global agreement on a uniform policy and then effective […]

Continue Reading

After Trump

Suppose we get a pro-climate-action unified government. What then?

Someday, the stars will surely come into alignment and Congress will be able to pass climate legislation.  A national cap-and-trade scheme or a carbon tax would be definite possibilities.  But let’s suppose they aren’t politically feasible, maybe because of opposition from progressive on equity grounds, or maybe because for some reason the public rejects them. […]

Continue Reading

Commemorating a Major Environmental Disaster–One With a Transformative Legacy

1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill Sparked the Beginning of America’s Modern Environmental Era

This week marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most serious and consequential environmental disasters in American history–the Santa Barbara offshore oil spill of 1969.  On January 28, 1969, an offshore oil rig (Platform A) owned and operated by the Union Oil Company and operating in federally-controlled waters in the Santa Barbara Channel off […]

Continue Reading

EPA’s Return to Bush-Era Clean Air Act Reforms Sacrifices Agency’s Duty to Protect Environment, Ignores the Law

Quiet changes buried behind the big de-regulatory headlines spell disaster for the environment

As I explained back in August, the Trump Administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan replacement (the “Affordable Clean Energy” or ACE rule) came with a significant change to how the EPA has traditionally interpreted the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review (NSR) provisions mandating pre-construction environmental review and the installation of air pollution controls to offset […]

Continue Reading

Using Emergency Powers to Fight Climate Change

If Trump can stretch emergency powers, maybe they can be used for other purposes too.

 Could a future President invoke emergency powers against climate change? Republicans are apparently worried that if Trump could use emergency powers by declaring border security a national emergency, the next president could do the same thing for climate change. There’s no doubt that this would be far more legitimate than Trump’s wall effort.  Border crossings […]

Continue Reading