Pollution & Health

Learning to Name Environmental Problems

It was only in the 1960s that the Supreme Court learned to talk about “pollution” and “wilderness.”

There are Supreme Court cases going back a century or more dealing with what we would now consider environmental issues such as preserving nature or air pollution. But when did the Court start seeing filthy rivers and smokey cities as embodiments of the same problem, despite their striking physical differences?  And when it did start …

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 10 Most Important Environmental Law Decisions of 2022

Climate Change, Water Rights, Environmental Justice & Federalism Issues Highlighted the Ninth Circuit’s Prodigious Environmental Docket This Year

I’ve shared in previous posts my view that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is–after the U.S. Supreme Court–the most influential court in the nation when it comes to environmental and natural resources law.  That’s true for two related reasons: first, the sprawling Ninth Circuit encompasses nine different states (including California) and …

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Methane Action in 2022: Project Climate’s Year In Review

A short summary of efforts to tackle the super pollutant.

Co-authored with Gil Damon, CLEE Methane Research Fellow.  2022 proved to be a big year for methane—the flammable gas that accounts for 30 percent of Earth’s anthropogenic warming. Methane forms when organic material decomposes in sealed spaces and is released in the agriculture, waste disposal, and energy sectors. In terms of warming, methane is a …

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Keep on Trucking

A new rule will clean up exhaust from new diesels, a major health threat.

Last week, EPA finalized its new rule imposing emission limits on new heavy trucks. The new regulation was clearly a massive undertaking. EPA’s formal announcement of the new rule is 1100 pages long. The accompanying summary of comments on the proposed rule and EPA’s responses is another 2000 pages. This is partly due to the …

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Not The Winds Of Change We Wanted

Bombay’s recent air quality crisis shows us our future

For several years, India’s capital of Delhi has been synonymous with awful air quality: just living there is the equivalent of smoking nearly 2,000 cigarettes a year. So it shocked me when the Indian Express reported that last week, Bombay’s air was even worse than Delhi’s. Delhi’s AQI last week was an abysmal 263; but …

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EPA Proposes Rejection of San Joaquin Valley Air District PM2.5 SIP Submittal

Emmett Institute White Paper Cited to Demonstrate Proposal’s Insufficiency

Earlier this month, EPA announced its proposed disapproval of San Joaquin Valley’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) submittal to address fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution. Among EPA’s reasons for proposing disapproval of the plan: The strategies to reduce building heating emissions—from things like water heaters and space heaters—were inadequate because they failed to consider zero-emission standards. …

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Happy 50th Anniversary, Federal Clean Water Act

One of America’s Foundational Environmental Laws Has Proven Transformational, But Requires Updating a Half-Century Later

The Clean Water Act (CWA), one of the nation’s most important environmental laws, is 50 years old today.  It’s proven to be one of the most successful of America’s bedrock federal environmental statutes.  But the CWA is far from perfect, needs some important updating, and will probably never fully achieve the aspirational goals Congress proclaimed …

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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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