Litigation

Don’t Leave the Public Out of the Public Utilities Commission

California may have denied due process for those questioning PGE’s penalty for starting the Kincade Fire

The Sonoma County District Attorney has been pursuing criminal charges against the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) for its role in sparking the 2019 Kincade fire, which reportedly destroyed 374 structures and led to over $600 million in damages. These criminal charges returned to the news today because the District Attorney has asked to …

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Frank G. Wells Clinic Faculty File Amicus Brief on Behalf of Law Professors in California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley

Supporting Berkeley’s ability to decide where utility infrastructure may be built

This week, as part of the Frank G. Wells Clinic in Environmental Law, Cara Horowitz, Julia Stein, and I filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of seven law professors in the Ninth Circuit case California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley, in which the California Restaurant Association (CRA), an industry association, is challenging a …

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Which Front Runner Would Be Better for the Environment?

The three front runners have track records, but they’re not easy to interpret.

Currently, the press seems to view Judges Michelle Childs, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Leondra Kruger as the front runners to replace Breyer. That may shift over the next month, but it seems worthwhile to give these three a closer look. They’ve all decided environmental cases while on the bench. I assume most readers don’t want …

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Wetlands, the Clean Water Act & the Supreme Court: the Sacketts Return to Washington

Justices Grant Review (Again) in the Sacketts’ Longstanding Wetlands Battle With the Government

  This week the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Sackett v. USEPA, No. 21-454, an important appeal involving the scope of federal authority to regulate wetlands under the Clean Water Act. If the Sackett litigation sounds familiar, it should: the case has been pending for well over a decade, and this is …

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Justice Breyer’s Nuanced Voice in Environmental Law

In a thoughtful, undramatic way, Breyer has turned out to be a valuable supporter for environmental regulation.

Given Justice Breyer’s announced retirement, it seems like a good time to assess his contribution to environmental law.  When Bill Clinton nominated him for the Supreme Court, there was a great deal of uneasiness among environmentalists about Justice Breyer. As an academic, he had sounded a cautious note about government regulation, calling for more deliberation …

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Wildfires, CEQA, Climate Change & the Courts

Recent Court Decisions Halt Building Projects, Invalidate CEQA Reviews for Failing to Assess Wildfire Hazards

Environmental and conservation groups have for a number of years attempted to convince California courts of the need to integrate climate change considerations into environmental analyses prepared under the state’s most important environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  However, the California judiciary has demonstrated little appetite for doing so.  Until now. Recently, courts …

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Today’s Vaccine Cases: Implications for Climate Change Regulation

Today’s ruling are (somewhat) good news in terms of West Virginia v. EPA?

Today, the Court’s conservative Justices split the difference in two cases involving vaccine mandates, striking down OSHA’s mandate but upholding a more limited mandate for healthcare workers. The cases also split the conservative Justices themselves, with three hardliners (Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch) seeking a more activist ruling in the OSHA case and dissenting in the …

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1990: The Year the Courts Discovered Climate Change

Cases were few, but one judge was years ahead of her time.

In an earlier post, I tried to figure out when the legal academy first discovered climate changes. As it turns out, it was almost a decade later when the federal courts took notice.  Those first climate change cases shed light on how new issues get litigated and how courts respond to new science. My research …

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Positive Signs That California’s New Housing Laws Will be Enforced

Recent Actions by California Courts & State Officials Are Encouraging, & Push Back Against Local Government Recalcitrance on the Housing Reform Front

In a recent post, I analyzed the California Legislature’s recent passage and Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing into law of two important bills–SB 9 and SB 10–designed to confront California’s well-documented housing crisis.  Those laws represent but the latest chapter in the Legislature’s record-setting enactment of numerous statutes in recent years to incentivize and mandate construction …

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The Latest Chapter in Los Angeles’ Century-Long Water War With the Eastern Sierra’s People & Environment

LADWP’s Unilateral Revocation of Water Allocation to Mono County’s Farmers & Ranchers Triggers County’s CEQA Challenge

There LADWP goes again. Recently the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced it was walking away from its longstanding obligation to provide Mono County residents and the environment with a tiny fraction of the water it transports from Mono County to LADWP’s urban customers in Los Angeles.  When efforts by county officials to …

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