Federal Climate Policy

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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New Roadmaps for Negative Emissions

Two reports try to figure out how to scale carbon removal

Last week saw two exciting reports released which examine how to remove carbon at scale. Getting to Neutral: Options for Negative Carbon Emissions in California was led by a team from Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LNLL), and assesses pathways for California to remove 125 million tons of CO2 /year from the air by 2045, in …

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Can the Center Hold?

The Challenge to Mainstream Environmentalism

Is environmentalism facing a paradigm shift? Since the 1970s, mainstream environmentalists, lawyers, and scholars have sought incremental progress based on established law and political realities. But frustration with that approach is palpable. The face of climate advocacy is now seventeen-year-old activist Greta Thunberg rather than Establishment politician Al Gore. And there is growing frustration with …

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Deciding a Climate Case in the Shadow of the Supreme Court

Juliana Judges Surely Had The Higher Court in Mind in Drafting Their Decision

The irony of the Ninth Circuit decision dismissing the Juliana v. United States  case this week is plain to see. Two branches of government — the legislative and executive –  have failed to act to address an environmental problem that may cause the destruction of the federal government itself.  The third branch, the judiciary, recognizes the …

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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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Congress Mandates Pentagon Climate Action

The GOP’s climate denial doesn’t extend to DOD.

Everyone says climate laws can never pass Congress.  But there’s a major exception. Each year since Trump took office, Congress has passed climate legislation as part of Defense Department spending. Trump has signed all of those laws.  In 2017, there was a congressional finding that climate change is a threat to national security.  In 2018, …

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A Paper Tiger?

Trump is proposing big changes to CEQ regs. But they may not matter.

The Trump Administration is trying to gut the current White House rules on environmental impact statements.  Some people view this move as a death blow to an important environmental tool. Here’s what Trump is trying to do and why it may not matter as much as people fear. As to what Trump & Co. are …

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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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