General

Biden’s silent climate victory lap

The president talks up his climate laws without saying “climate.” Can the U.S. meet its climate goals without telling voters about them? 

Well, we finally got a real “Infrastructure Week.” President Biden has been traveling from Baltimore to New York to Kentucky, touting his major legislative achievements in front of trains, tunnels and bridges. He’s talking up both the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as a warm-up for his State …

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How Much Rain is L.A. Capturing?

Local measures like Measure W are working. But more needs to be done to capture stormwater and rainwater.

At least nine atmospheric rivers blasted California between December 20th and January 15th, causing flooding and extensive damage, while also delivering much needed precipitation to our parched state. The Los Angeles County Public Works Department announced recently that more than 33 billion gallons of stormwater have been captured in the early months of the winter …

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50 Years Ago: Environmental Law in 1973

Five decades back, the country was in the midst of unprecedented environmental ferment.

1973 was at the crest of the environmental surge that swept the United States half a century ago.  In the previous three years, Congress had passed NEPA, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act. The first EPA Administrator took office in 1971. Continuing the legislative wave, 1973 saw the passage of the Endangered …

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Unraveling Hydrogen: Part I

The first in a series that examines the hype around hydrogen production.

For over a century, supporters of hydrogen energy have billed H2 as the fuel of the future. In his 1874 novel, The Mysterious Island, Jules Verne wrote that “water will one day be employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen which constitute it, used singly or together, will furnish an inexhaustible source of heat and …

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My Farewell to UCLA

Leaving UCLA to join Earthjustice is exciting, and bittersweet, for me

This will be my final Legal Planet post as a member of the UCLA faculty. After 20 wonderful years at UCLA School of Law, directing our Environmental Law Center and Wells Clinic and then co-directing our Emmett Institute with Cara Horowitz, I’m leaving to join Earthjustice as the managing attorney of the organization’s California Regional …

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LA’s big step toward building electrification

A photograph of Los Angeles, taken at night

Los Angeles is about to require that new buildings be electric, but there’s a bigger decarbonization hurdle waiting.

The City of Los Angeles is going into the new year with a big new building-decarbonization ordinance: starting this year, nearly all new buildings in the city will have to be entirely electric. This means that, with few exceptions, new buildings will need to exclusively use electric appliances, and will not be allowed to contain …

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 10 Most Important Environmental Law Decisions of 2022

Climate Change, Water Rights, Environmental Justice & Federalism Issues Highlighted the Ninth Circuit’s Prodigious Environmental Docket This Year

I’ve shared in previous posts my view that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is–after the U.S. Supreme Court–the most influential court in the nation when it comes to environmental and natural resources law.  That’s true for two related reasons: first, the sprawling Ninth Circuit encompasses nine different states (including California) and …

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Reflections on a Century of “Regulatory Takings” Law

A Century Ago, the Supreme Court Created a Transformative Legal Doctrine Out of Whole Cloth

One hundred years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a radical constitutional decision that over the last century has proven enormously consequential in a host of environmental, natural resources and public health contexts.  In the December 1922 decision Pennsylvania Coal Company v. Mahon, a divided Supreme Court created the constitutional doctrine of “regulatory …

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The Passing of a Respected Water Warrior

Remembering California Water Law Attorney Clifford Lee

Clifford (Cliff) Lee, one of California’s most knowledgable and respected water law experts, died suddenly late last month.  His passing leaves a tremendous void in the field of California water law and policy. After earning his undergraduate degree from U.C. Berkeley, Cliff attended law school at U.C. Davis and quickly became entranced by water law.  …

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Loss and Damage

A deeper dive into the top issue at COP27

As I noted in my last post, this year’s conference of the parties to the climate treaties (COP27) became pretty much a single-issue conference, focused on adaptation and the associated needs for finance – in particular on the urgent need for financial assistance to support adaptation in the Global South, and the lamentable record of …

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