NEPA

The Side Deal

How would the Manchin-Schumer deal on permitting impact the environment?

To get Manchin’s vote for the $379 billion in environmental spending in the IRA bill, Schumer and other congressional leaders had to agree to support Manchin’s efforts  to speed up the permit system. At this point, all we have is a one-page list of permitting changes that would form the basis of a new bill. …

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What the Supreme Court Left Standing

No, the Court didn’t eliminate EPA’s ability to fight climate change.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the West Virginia case left many people with the impression that it eliminated the government’s power to regulate carbon emissions. There are quite a number of areas of climate law that the Supreme Court has left untouched. Here’s the EPA authority the Court hasn’t touched: EPA’s jurisdiction over greenhouse gases.  …

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An Abundance Research Agenda

If we need to build lots of things fast to address climate and housing crises, how will we do that?

There’s been a lot of buzz about this column by Ezra Klein in the New York Times.  Klein’s basic argument: We need to do a lot of infrastructure and other development projects to make the world a better place.  For example, we’ll need to build power lines and renewable projects to address climate change.  But …

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Biden Undoes NEPA Rollback

Trump tried to keep climate change out of environmental impact statements. Biden was right to scotch that effort.

Yesterday, the White House undid an effort by the Trump Administration to undermine the use of environmental impact statements. The pre-Trump rules had been in effect since 1978. Restoring the 1978 version was the right thing to do. The Trump’s rules arbitrarily limited the scope of the environmental effects that EPA can consider.  Their goal …

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Pipelines, Emissions and FERC

From now on, carbon emissions from new pipelines will be one of FERC’s key concerns.

On Friday there were two seismic shocks in the world of gas pipeline regulation. FERC has spent years resisting pressure to change the way it licenses new gas pipelines. A whole point of a natural gas pipeline is to deliver the gas to users who will burn it, thereby releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. FERC …

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It’s Not All CEQA’s Fault

Public process can actually be pretty important.

I first wrote a version of this post way back in July 2021, when Ezra Klein dropped a couple of lines knocking the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) into one of the op-eds The New York Times loves to perennially run about how California is actually the worst (I’m sorry it can’t be 80 degrees …

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Painful Tradeoffs

How do we manage the local environmental impacts of the energy transition?

Just before leaving office, the Trump Administration approved a huge lithium mine in Thacker Pass, Nevada. The mine could help supply the U.S. battery industry for decades. It might also impact habitat of the endangered grouse sage, deplete groundwater levels, and threaten the survival of an endangered trout. Local residents have sued to block 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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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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