Celebrating NEPA: America’s Most Transformative, Overarching & Catalytic Environmental Law
On a snowy New Year’s Day in 1970–50 years ago today–then-President Richard Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act. NEPA’s passage marked the beginning of America’s modern environmental law era. It was followed by Congressional passage of a series of other federal environmental laws over the next decade–major statutes that to this day …CONTINUE READING
The current bench is tilted against environmental regulation. It could get worse.
In September, Take Back the Court issued a study entitled, “The Roberts Court Would Likely Strike Down Climate Change Legislation.” In my view, that’s too alarmist. But the current conservative majority definitely will be an obstacle to aggressive use of government regulation. That could hold true well into the 2030s, depending on who leaves the …CONTINUE READING
Should the feds be liable for flooding during Hurricane Harvey?
A federal statute bars nearly all claims against the federal government for flooding. Victims of flooding from Hurricane Harvey seem to have found a loophole by claiming that their property was taken without just compensation by flooding. The facts are unusual, but the case raises some deep questions about financial responsibility for flood control. Here …CONTINUE READING
State and Local Governments’ Common Law-Based Lawsuits Against the Energy Industry Are Steadily Gaining Traction
The latest chapter in American climate change litigation has been launched by local governments–and one state–across the U.S. against domestic and international fossil fuel companies. These lawsuits have been brought under one of the oldest and most venerable legal doctrines–state common law. They seek compensation from the energy industry for the myriad, adverse effects of …CONTINUE READING
However, today’s ruling will likely have little direct impact
Today the Netherlands’ supreme court sided with an environmental organization and ruled that the Dutch government has an obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more aggressively. This is being widely praised by environmentalists and others concerned about climate change. However, this historic ruling will likely have little impact on actual emissions, at least directly. At …CONTINUE READING
Will Kavanaugh Use the Major Questions Doctrine or the Non-Delegation Doctrine to Scrap Them?
The Democratic candidates all have bold plans to attack climate change but face an obvious problem: Congress. Unless the Democrats take the Senate and the Presidency while retaining the House, and unless the Democrats abolish the filibuster, it’s hard to imagine Congress passing comprehensive climate legislation (and even then getting legislation through will be a …CONTINUE READING
The Court refused to hear two cases, but with noteworthy separate opinions.
The Supreme Court declined to hear two cases today. Neither case was earthshaking, but conservative Justices wrote revealing separate opinions. The case with the greatest import for environmental law was Paul v. U.S. The facts of the case had nothing to do with environmental law, but the issue involved has large implications for environmental statutes. …CONTINUE READING
Some issues are perennial, like property rights v. public rights in water.
I suppose most of you, like me, have never heard of the Watuppa Ponds. But in 1888, a battle broke out over the legality of their use to supply drinking water for a nearby city. The issue closely divided Massachusetts’s highest court, and led to a heated debate in the recently launched Harvard Law Review …CONTINUE READING
Unlike past lawsuits, a recent one may be able to accomplish more
Last week, closing arguments were presented in a potentially important climate change lawsuit, the People of the State of New York v. Exxon Mobil Corp. Such climate legal action seems increasingly common, or at least visible. In the US, 21 youths have brought a lawsuit against the federal government and fossil fuel companies for failing …CONTINUE READING
Automakers might get a federal “one national standard”…just not the one they seem interested in.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that the Trump administration will move to finalize its rollback of federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards by the end of the year, and that, unlike the freeze previously proposed by the administration, the rule will require annual fuel economy improvements of 1.5 percent. That’s still much …CONTINUE READING