Property Rights

On the First Monday in October, the Sacketts Head to the Supreme Court a Second Time

Sackett v. EPA–the Most Important Environmental Case on the Justices’ Current Docket–Will Answer the Key Question of How Far Federal Wetlands Regulation Extends Under the Clean Water Act

Today the U.S. Supreme Court formally begins its 2022-23 Term.  First up on the justices’ docket this morning is a major environmental case: Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 21-454. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  Over the past half-century, no single CWA issue has proven more contentious and …

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My Kind of Town

Climate change is coming to Chicago and Lake Michigan.

“My kind of town, Chicago is my kind of town.” Or so Frank Sinatra sang. I’m not sure he really felt that way himself, but the song rings a chord with me.  I didn’t grow up in Chicago but we visited frequently to see my parents’ families. Chicago is also, as it turns out, ground …

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Before Yellowstone: The Arkansas Origin of National Parks

In a forgotten incident, Congress set aside Hot Springs in 190 years ago.

The origins of the national park system is usually traced back Lincoln’s 1864 signature of the Yosemite Grant Act.  But Congress had actually had the idea of protecting extraordinary places over thirty years earlier, in Arkansas of all places. Hot Springs isn’t high on the list of American places to see, which may be one …

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Governors Launch Action Plan to Reduce Deforestation and Improve Lives in Forested Regions

Wilson Lima, Governor of Amazonas and chair of the GCF Task Force 12th Annual Meeting, introduces the Manaus Action Plan alongside other governors and high-level representatives. Photo credit: GCF Task Force

Manaus Action Plan for a New Forest Economy advances ambitious action at Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force 12th Annual Meeting hosted by state of Amazonas

For more than a decade of leadership and innovation, member states and provinces of the Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force have been developing strategies, programs, investment plans, and new legal structures to address tropical deforestation, embark on a low-emissions development path, and benefit their populations and the climate. These governments have developed jurisdiction-specific, …

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Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force Kicks Off Annual Meeting in Heart of the Amazon Basin

The Amazon and Rio Negro rivers meet in Manaus, Brazil

12th Annual Meeting of GCF Task Force hosted by Governor of Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil, March 15-18, 2022

This week, on the banks of the largest river system in the world, Governors, environment secretaries and civil servants, Indigenous peoples and local community leaders, national governments, the private sector, and partner organizations will be meeting to discuss innovative partnerships and solutions to the threat of tropical deforestation at the 12th Annual Meeting of the …

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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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A Sleeper Provision in the Senate Infrastructure Bill

The bill gives the Feds broad authority to authorize transmission projects.

We will need a much more robust transmission in coming years.  Sources of renewable energy, such as Iowa wind farms, are often located far from the urban centers that need the power. Transmission also helps to deal with weather issues that may impact renewables: even if it’s too cloudy for solar in one state, the …

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The Illusions of Takings Law

Nothing is as it seems, when the issue is whether a regulation is a “taking” of property.

For the last century, the Supreme Court has tried to operationalize the idea that a government regulation can be so burdensome that it amounts to a seizure of property. In the process, it has created a house of mirrors, a maze in which nothing is as it seems. Rules that appear crisp and clear turn …

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Supreme Court Finds California Labor Access Regulation Works Unconstitutional Taking of Private Property

What Are the Implications of the Cedar Point Nursery Decision for Environmental, Natural Resources & Public Health Programs?

In a closely-watched property rights decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today held unconstitutional a longstanding California regulation allowing labor unions intermittent access to agricultural workplaces for labor organizing purposes.  Reversing a decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a 6-3 Supreme Court majority ruled that the challenged regulation triggers a per se, compensable government “taking” …

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Offering “Carrots” to Protect the Amazon

Brazil flag

Brazil asks for a billion dollars to slow deforestation. Would this be cooperation or extortion?

In March, US President Joe Biden invited the leaders of 40 countries to a virtual climate change summit, which takes place today and tomorrow. During the lead-up to this, many countries announced commitments of varying specificity and firmness to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (I hope to write soon on the European Union.) Brazil’s position is …

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