Politics

Commemorating a Major Environmental Disaster–One With a Transformative Legacy

1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill Sparked the Beginning of America’s Modern Environmental Era

This week marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most serious and consequential environmental disasters in American history–the Santa Barbara offshore oil spill of 1969.  On January 28, 1969, an offshore oil rig (Platform A) owned and operated by the Union Oil Company and operating in federally-controlled waters in the Santa Barbara Channel off […]

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Climate policy and horcruxes

What Harry Potter might have to teach us about making climate policy more resilient to political shifts

As the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear, the negative impacts of climate change are now upon us, and we have a very limited amount of time to decarbonize global economies in order to reduce the risk of catastrophic impacts from climate change, impacts that might begin as soon […]

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Straws in the Wind? Climate Change and the GOP.

There are some signs the GOP may finally bestarting to acknowledge the reality of climate change.

Is Republican climate denial starting to crack?  The GOP’s official position has long been that climate change isn’t happening, or if it is, it’s not caused by humans, and anyway it’s not that serious and there’s nothing to be done about.  Three events last week may be signs that this position is starting to weaken. […]

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Regulatory Review in Anti-Regulatory Times: Congress

Congress overturned a host of regs at the start of the Trump Administration. Looks more like a random walk than a systematic effort.

In theory, cost-benefit analysis should be just as relevant when the government is deregulating as when it is imposing new regulations. But things don’t seem to work that way. This is the second of two blog posts analyzing how costs and benefits figured in decisions during the past two years of unified GOP control of […]

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Guest Blogger Gregory Dotson: Oregon May Join the Western Climate Initiative: What About Gasoline Prices?

Regardless of State Action, Surging Sales of Electric Vehicles Could Crash Gasoline Prices

Oregon is on the verge of taking historic action to establish an economy-wide cap and invest program and clean up the state’s carbon pollution. In doing so, Oregon could demonstrate how one state can do its part to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The concept dates back more than a decade, but the […]

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Will There Be a Global Environmental Constitution?

Global Pact for the Environment, draft cover

The potential of a proposed Global Pact for the Environment remains uncertain

The 1990s were the heyday of international environmental lawmaking. The 1992 United Nations “Rio Conference” on Environment and Development catalyzed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. The decade also witnessed the launch of the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent as well as protocols  […]

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The Thin Gray Line

Few people understand the role that the bureaucracy plays in keeping us safe.

“Bureaucrat” is just another name for public servant. It has been said that a thin blue line of police protects us from the worst elements of society. But it is a thin gray line of underpaid, overworked, anonymous bureaucrats who protect society against more insidious risks — risks ranging from nuclear contamination to climate change to […]

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Assessing–and Celebrating–California Governor Jerry Brown’s Environmental Legacy

Governor Brown Easily Ranks as the Top Environmental Governor in State History

Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got `Til it’s gone         –Joni Mitchell (“Big Yellow Taxi”) On this, the last day of Jerry Brown‘s tenure as California’s governor, it’s appropriate to reflect on Governor Brown’s environmental legacy.  And a most formidable legacy it’s been. Brown has, quite […]

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The 2020 Congressional Elections and the Environment

They’re almost two years away, but we need to get ready.

I  know, I know. It seems very early to start thinking about the 2020 elections! But I follow my late mother’s philosophy that it’s never too soon to start worrying. Why do the 2020 Senate elections matter? Let’s start with the Senate.  Suppose the President in 2021 is a Republican, maybe named Donald J. We’ve […]

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Trump’s Theory of Law

He probably doesn’t know he has a theory, but he does. It’s shaping his deregulatory agenda..

OK, using the word “theory” in connection with Trump may seem like a stretch.  But he does seem to have an implicit theory of law, which helps explain a lot of his approach to regulatory change. He’s also an intuitive believer in a strong form of the unitary executive. Theories of law can be classified […]

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