NEPA

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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Debating Environmental Racism in the Ninth Circuit

A recent case occasioned a sharp exchange about accusation of environmental racism.

 Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. FAA is a Ninth Circuit opinion decided before the Thanksgiving break. It involved to a legal challenge to the FAA’s refusal to prepare a full-scale environmental impact statement before approving a major Amazon distribution center at the San Bernardino airport. I probably wouldn’t have read the decision …

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The U.S. Government Is Researching Solar Geoengineering. Now What?

An image of the U.S. Capitol Building in the evening.

Officials should use the tools on hand to get governance right.

In December, Congress renewed funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to investigate stratospheric aerosols as a potential method for “solar climate interventions,” expanding a research program established a year earlier. These actions have been widely interpreted as the first-ever federal research project into solar geoengineering—proposals to slightly “dim the sun” to limit …

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The Ninth Circuit’s 10 Most Important Environmental Law Decisions of 2020

Climate Change, California v. Trump Cases Lead the List

This is the second of three year-end posts on the most important environmental law decisions in 2020 from the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and California Supreme Court.  (The key U.S. Supreme Court rulings were the focus of yesterday’s post, and tomorrow’s will feature California Supreme Court decisions.) Today, …

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Biden’s Green Team

Here are the six who will lead the way on environment and energy issues.

Biden’s choices to head particular agencies have trickled out over the past few weeks.  It’s only when you put them together that you get a sense of the overall time.  It’s a very diverse group, all of whom seem to have strong environmental commitments. Pete Buttigieg, Department of Transportation.  Buttigieg is a well-known figure from …

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Downstream Emissions

A new court ruling could doom the Trump Administration’s ANWR plan.

A Ninth Circuit ruling yesterday overturned approval of offshore drilling in the Arctic. The ruling may directly impact the Trump Administration’s plans for oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). By requiring agencies to consider emissions when fossil fuels are ultimately burned, the Court of Appeal’s decision may also change the way that …

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Enforcing NEPA’s Forgotten Mandate

The courts have failed to enforce a core requirement of NEPA. That leaves the White House.

The Democrats have adopted an ambitious platform for environmental protection, full of innovative legislative initiatives.  Here’s another idea Biden and Harris should consider, making use of the oldest of the modern environmental statutes. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is best known for requiring environmental impact statements. While they have enforced that requirement, the courts …

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Election 2020: Three Months till Election Day

The environmental are high: Trump has axed one regulation every two weeks for four years.

Since taking office, Trump has waffled on some issues and shuffled personnel, but on one thing he has held firm: eradicating legal protection of the environment.  His motto seems to be: No Regulation Left Standing. Something to keep in mind, as we head toward Election Day.  That’s three months away, but some states begin early …

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Wasting Away in Methaneville

Another Trump rollback gets slapped down in court.

A week ago, a federal district court overturned yet another ill-conceived rollback by the Trump Administration. The case, California v. Bernhardt, involved releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The legal flaws in the rollback by the Bureau of Land Management, are all too typical of the Administration’s work product. The Administration has repeatedly lost …

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Trump’s Latest Deregulatory Ploy: Emergency Waivers

Shaky legal authority, poor analysis, dubious benefits. What else is new?

In an Executive Order issued last Thursday, Trump told agencies to use emergency waivers to avoid environmental safeguards. The order is legally shaky and unlikely to accomplish much.  Still, it provided a nice photo op. Maybe he should have signed it in front of a church. I’ll talk later about the specifics, but first I’d …

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