Is 2025 the Year of the Carbon Tax?

Carbon border adjustment mechanisms are increasingly the talk of Washington. UCLA Law’s Kimberly Clausing explains some of the options on the table.

There’s a big, important tax debate looming next year—one with opportunities and risks for climate policy, particularly the idea of a carbon tax. It can be hard to see this debate thanks to the daily churn of the 2024 presidential election, but it’s there on the horizon if you squint. For one thing, we’ll likely …


Playing fast and loose with reality

How the US Supreme Court’s recent decisions enable greater reliance on “alternative” facts

As the U.S. Supreme Court has moved into an era of second-guessing federal administrative agencies to an extent that we have not seen in 80 years, it has delivered yet another blow to reliance on accurate facts. When I served as an administrative law judge for California’s state utility regulators, my job in each proceeding …


California can help meet its climate goals by removing SERP’s sunset date

By Molly Bruce, Dave Smith, Michael Kiparsky, Derek Hitchcock, Peter Van De Burgt, Sydney Chamberlin, Megan Cleveland

Many regulatory clearances like permits aim to guard against projects that pose harm to the environment. However, permitting can also undercut environmental restoration efforts. While restoration is designed to remedy environmental harms and improve resilience to climate change, permitting can substantially increase project costs and slow or altogether impede environmentally beneficial projects. Striking an effective …


A New Era of Conservation on the Horizon

Lessons from philanthropist and conservationist Kris Tompkins after a visit to the UCLA Emmett Institute.

“Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” That line by writer Edward Abbey is a favorite quote of Kris Tompkins. She’s the legendary conservationist and philanthropist who recently visited UCLA Law at the invitation of the Emmett Institute and the Lowell Milken Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofits.   Ever since Thompkins’s visit with …


The Third Political Branch

Time for Term Limits?

In 2021, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett famously said, “my goal today is to convince you that [the Supreme] Court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks.”  Justice Barrett is correct.  The Justices are not hacks, but rather polished political actors.  Let’s review: In West Virginia v. EPA, 142 S. Ct. 2587 …


Losing Chevron: What Does It Mean for California?

The Supreme Court’s decision in Loper Bright will not necessarily impact how California courts review our state agency determinations. But we’ll feel it in other ways.

A question I’ve been getting a lot since the Supreme Court overturned the Chevron doctrine is: “What does this decision mean for California?” Here are three takeaways about how the Golden State is likely—or not—to be impacted at first blush. First, the decision does have the potential to impact California directly in some pending litigation. …


Is Loper v. Raimondo Really the Power Grab Commentators Assume?

The Supreme Court has already grabbed power from agencies through the major questions doctrine.

Headlines about today’s decision in Loper v Raimondo overturning the 40 year-old decision in Chevron v NRDC that granted agencies deference in their interpretation of ambiguous statutes  focus on the “massive power grab,” the decision’s “sweeping” nature and call it a  “blow” to the administrative state.  My view may be idiosyncratic but I don’t view …


The Biden-Trump Debate’s Climate Question

“You’ve vowed to end your opponent’s climate initiatives,” Trump was asked. “But will you take any action as President to slow the climate crisis?”

The first—and possibly last—debate between President Joe Biden and Donald Trump was never going to be about the existential climate crisis. But the CNN moderators did press the issue in one question. The meandering answer that followed was a microcosm of the whole excruciating affair.  I wrote here about 22 possible climate-related questions that CNN’s …


The Hawai’i Youth Climate Settlement

Thirteen youth plaintiffs secured a court-enforced agreement to decarbonize the state’s transportation system without even setting foot in a courtroom.

At the precise time on Monday, June 24 when 13 young Hawaiians were set to file into a Honolulu court for the start of trial, they instead gathered at the historic Iolani Palace to celebrate with their legal teams and supporters. Their case, Navahine v. Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation, was the latest youth climate lawsuit …


Is Activism a Part of Responsible Climate Scholarship?

Climate protestors dressed in red stand on steps in Bordeaux, France

Academics needn’t become activists, but I argue that we must support activism. Indeed, inclusive engagement with activism could enhance our scholarship.

Climate activism has diverse expressions. From blowing up pipelines, to throwing orange cornflour on historic monuments. From street protests to writing politicians. In the opinion of some commentators, scientists and scholars should steer clear of all such activities. Some fear alienating publics from science and scholarship. Others suggest that participating in activism reveals a disturbing …