Pollution & Health

U.C. Davis Law School to Host “Clean Water Act at 50” Conference

Interdisciplinary Event Will Assess Landmark Law’s Past, Assess Its Future

On Friday, October 7th, the California Environmental Law & Policy Center at U.C. Davis School of Law will convene a major, day-long conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act.  The event will assess the progress the U.S. has made over the past half-century in abating water pollution; focus on some …

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Making Fossil Fuels Pay for Their Damage

A carbon tax doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Maybe a clean-up tax would fare better.

Production and combustion of fossil fuels imposes enormous costs on society, which the industry doesn’t pay for.  I want to talk about some options for using the tax system to change that.  One option, a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, gets the most attention but seems politically impossible.  The closest we’ve ever come to a …

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Will the Supreme Court Gut the Clean Water Act?

We’re about to find out in an upcoming case.

What wetlands and waterbodies does the Clean Water Act protect? Congress failed to provide a clear answer when it passed the statute, and the issue has been a bone of contention ever since.  The Biden Administration is in the process of issuing a new regulation on the subject. Normally, you’d expect the Supreme Court to …

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Taking A Data-Driven Tour of Air Pollution Law

After Half a Century, What Do We Really Know about the Impacts of the Clean Air Act?

Earlier this year, a team of economists published a retrospective paper on the Clean Air Act. It surveys the economic literature to find out what the data tells us about emission trading systems, the effects of pollutants, and effects of imposing tougher regulatory requirements in areas that failed to meet national air quality standards. Some …

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California Adopts Nation-Leading Legislation to Cut Plastic Pollution

Less than 10 percent of the world’s plastic waste is recycled. Photo credit: Bo Eide, Flickr

Extended producer responsibility law will reduce single-use waste and shift responsibility to industry

In a welcome reprieve from news coming out of the Supreme Court, here’s an uplifting story from the Golden State: On Thursday, Governor Newsom signed SB 54, a comprehensive piece of legislation aimed at significantly reducing single-use waste. The law will affect just about every type of plastic packaging you see walking down the supermarket …

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New Paper Addresses California Air District Authority to End NOx Pollution from Household Appliances

Most household appliances, like furnaces and water heaters, are powered by fossil fuels and emit nitrogen oxides (NOx)—toxic and highly reactive gases that endanger human health and the environment. To address this problem, air districts have adopted policies to reduce NOx pollution from appliances, and others across California are considering similar proposals. In a new …

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Responsible EV Batteries

Building a supply chain that drives electrification while advancing human rights and environmental protection

On April 4, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the mitigation chapter of its Sixth Assessment Report (view the full report here). The report’s diagnosis is stark—the window to address climate change is narrowing, and more quickly than we realized. Governments need to deploy mitigation actions rapidly to address the scale and urgency …

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Pollution Control as Climate Policy

Tightening air quality standards will also reduce carbon emissions.

The Biden Administration is slowly grinding away at an important regulatory task: reconsidering the air quality standards for particulates and ozone.  Setting those standards is an arduous and time-consuming process, requiring consideration of reams of technical data. For instance, a preliminary staff report on fine particulates (PM2.5) is over 600 pages long. When the process …

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Environmental Justice, Truck Pollution, and the Biden EPA

How will EPA integrate EJ into its rule making? The answer remains murky.

EPA recently released a notice of proposed rulemaking for pollution from new heavy-duty vehicles. I was interested to see how environmental justice figured into the analysis, looking for clues about how the Biden Administration plans to make EJ part of decision making.  What I found wasn’t very enlightening. Perhaps they’re still trying to come up …

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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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