Pollution & Health

California Supreme Court Rules County Ordinance Limiting Oil & Gas Development Preempted by State Law

Monterey County Oilfield

Court Decision May Well Be Correct as a Matter of Law, But Represents Outdated & Unsound Public Policy

Last week, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a local initiative measure that would have imposed severe restrictions on oil and gas development in Monterey County is preempted by state law and therefore invalid.  The decision came in the case of Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. County of Monterey.  The Supreme Court’s ruling was predictable, …

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Not Just About the Climate

The benefits of the energy transition transcend climate.

The main reason to control carbon is to protect the climate. But cleaning up the energy system has plenty of other benefits. Those benefits will flow to people in rural areas as well as urban ones, to national security and international development, and to nature itself. To begin with, there are the health benefits of …

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A decade of unraveling the effects of regulation on water innovation 

By Michael Kiparsky, with Dave Smith, Nell Green Nylen, Luke Sherman, Alida Cantor, Anita Milman, Felicia Marcus, David Sedlak, Bernhard Truffer, Christian Binz, Sasha Harris-Lovett, Jeff Lape, Justin Mattingly, Dave Owen, Lars Tummers, Buzz Thompson

In a recent post, my colleagues and I reported on our most recent research output in a long series of projects examining the effect of regulation on water innovation. The post describes a new framework for understanding and, ultimately, improving relationships between regulators and wastewater utility managers who are seeking to implement novel technical solutions, …

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Air Quality Watchdog Agrees to Get Tougher on Refineries

Los Angeles' coastal bike path passes several large-scale energy infrastructure projects, including the Chevron Refinery in El Segundo, CA.

There’s a favorable settlement in the case brought by Earthjustice on behalf of EYCEJ with help from UCLA law students.

Last year, the South Coast Air Quality Management District was accused of not properly enforcing a state law that requires petroleum refineries to install air-quality monitoring systems around their perimeter. Essentially, the air quality watchdog exempted smaller refineries from having to follow the rules. Now, the SCAQMD has agreed to reverse course and move to …

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Supreme Court Allows Major State, Local Government Climate Change Litigation to Proceed on Merits

Justices Decline to Intervene in Government Lawsuits Seeking Damages from Fossil Fuel Industry

This week the U.S. Supreme Court gave state and local governments a big–if preliminary–legal win against the fossil fuel industry.  The justices declined to take up numerous cases in which government entities have sued oil, gas and coal companies, seeking compensation for the climate change-related damage the jurisdictions they claim to have suffered, and which …

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Achieving EV Battery Sustainability

Image shows tiers of earth and a water pool in a lithium mine

CLEE issue brief looks back on 2022 EV battery supply chain milestones and forecasts 2023 decisions

Countries in key markets are accelerating their transportation decarbonization goals, which in turn is driving up demand for electric vehicles (EVs). Here in California, for example, the Air Resources Board approved the Advanced Clean Cars II rule in 2022, which establishes that all new passenger vehicles sold in the state must be zero-emission vehicles by …

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How Garden-Variety Air Pollution Regulation Promotes Environmental Justice

Cleaning up our nation’s air benefits the disadvantaged most of all.

Evidence is mounting that air pollution regulation is an effective way of reducing  health disparities between disadvantaged communities and the population as a whole. The basic reason is simple: Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to poor communities and communities of color.  As the American Lung Association has said: “The burden of air pollution …

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Deregulation, Normal Accidents, and the Airborne Toxic Event

What can we learn from the East Palestine train wreck?

Source: Wikimedia Commons The East Palestine train derailment is the story that won’t go away.  Images of enraged residents shouting at company executives and government officials about the inadequacy of the response remind us all that across our vast industrial economy accidents of one sort or another are always waiting to happen while private firms …

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Cutting 290,000 Tons of Water Pollution a Year, One Coal Plant at a Time

Coal is a dirty fuel. It’s not just air pollution or climate change.

EPA proposed new regulations next week to reduce the water pollution impacts of coal-fired power plants.  As EPA regulations go, these count as fairly minor. They got a bit of news coverage in coal country and industry publications. But they will eliminate the discharge of thousands of tons of pollutants, including a lot of metals …

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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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