Public Lands

Celebrating the Birth of America’s National Park System

Yellowstone–the World’s First National Park–Created 150 Years Ago

  American author, historian and conservationist Wallace Stegner once observed: “National parks are the best idea we ever had.  Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than at our worst.” More recently, Ken Burns channeled Stegner in titling Burns’ award-winning PBS documentary, “The National Parks–America’s Best Idea.” The National Park System …

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Can we govern large-scale green infrastructure for multiple water benefits?

Yolo Bypass Aerial View

by Lidia Cano Pecharroman, Christopher Williams, Nell Green Nylen, and Michael Kiparsky

Green infrastructure is increasingly emphasized as an alternative, novel path for water infrastructure. The possibilities are intriguing: Can we transition from a landscape dominated by siloed grey infrastructure (think concrete and steel, constructed for one or a few key outcomes like water supply or flood control) to one that centers natural processes in water infrastructure …

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Painful Tradeoffs

How do we manage the local environmental impacts of the energy transition?

Just before leaving office, the Trump Administration approved a huge lithium mine in Thacker Pass, Nevada. The mine could help supply the U.S. battery industry for decades. It might also impact habitat of the endangered grouse sage, deplete groundwater levels, and threaten the survival of an endangered trout. Local residents have sued to block the …

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What’s in the Reconciliation Bill?

The House takes an important step toward transforming the energy system

Last Friday, the House passed its version of the Build Back Better Act. Due to a quirk in parliamentary procedure, the Senate will be able to consider the $1.7 trillion bill under the “reconciliation” process, which means no filibuster is allowed. It remains unclear whether anyone can wrangle all fifty Senators into supporting some version …

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The Last Four Years — and the Next Four

How did our predictions about Trump hold up? What should we expect for Biden?

In September 2017, Eric Biber and I published a threat assessment after the first 200 days of the Trump Administration. For those who have buried their memories of that time, those were days of shock and despair about the future of environmental protection (and much else). It seems time to bring our report up to …

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Science article argues that conservation should be allowed to pay its own way on public lands

The law too often restricts resource rights on public lands to extraction activities and precludes conservation

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auction in February, 2016, for oil and gas drilling rights near Arches National Park was unremarkable. The high bidder, Tempest Exploration Co. LLC, paid $2,500 for the 1,120 acre lease by credit card and began paying annual rental fees. What soon did prove remarkable, though, was the revelation that …

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Top 10 Biggest Environmental Wins In California’s History

Ranking the victories that saved priceless landscapes and environmental features

California is generally known as an environmental leader, but the state has also faced tremendous environmental degradation and destruction. I chronicled my “top 10” worst environmental decisions in the state’s history last year. But what about the good things state policy makers have done? Here is my list of the most significant environmental wins in …

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Nature As A Carbon Sequestration Solution

New CLEE/Emmett Institute report analyzes policy solutions to accelerate investment

New UC Berkeley/UCLA Law report discusses policy solutions to accelerate investment in nature-based climate solutions in California. Register for a free webinar on Wednesday, June 16 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM Pacific Time with an expert panel to learn about the top findings. This post is co-authored by Katie Segal and Ted Lamm. Some …

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Keeping It All In the Ground?

Exploring legal options for congressional and executive actions to terminate existing fossil fuel leases on federal lands.

The Biden Administration has set aggressive goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the United States.  And a necessary component for any long-term plan to address greenhouse gas emissions from the United States is reducing and ultimately eliminating the emissions from fossil fuels produced on federal lands. Why is this such a critical …

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s Most Important 2020 Environmental Law Decisions

Clean Water Act, CERCLA, Native American Law and Trump’s Border Wall Lead the List

It’s become customary for critics and observers from many disciplines to publish a wide variety of lists at year’s end, nominating the most important or best movies, music, plays, etc. of the preceding year.  Why not follow that tradition in the fields of environmental law and policy? With that objective in mind, I plan over …

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