Regulation

Reforming California’s Financial Penalties for Water Theft Will Create an Effective Deterrent

Overdue State Water Reform Legislation Likely Be Enacted in 2024–Finally

In a Legal Planet Post earlier this week, I recounted the saga of how federal prosecutors recently secured the criminal conviction of Dennis Falaschi, the former San Joaquin Valley water district general manager who oversaw the decades-long theft of millions of gallons of publicly-owned water from California’s Central Valley Project.  That successful prosecution certainly qualifies …

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Why a Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush — Especially When the Issue is Climate Change

Climate action is too urgent to insist on waiting for perfect solutions

It’s an ancient dispute: Should we compromise on half-measures, or hold out until we can get something a lot better?  Idealists argue for holding out. Pragmatist argue that half a loaf is better than none. Rather than rehearse familiar arguments, I want to focus specifically on climate change.  In my view, holding out for ideal …

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Little Hoover Commission Releases Flawed CEQA Report

The long-awaited report proposes sweeping exemptions and process changes—even though its own reasoning points in the opposite direction.

More than a year ago, California’s Little Hoover Commission convened the first in a series of public hearings designed to interrogate the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as well as Californians’ often tense relationship with that landmark legislation. In recent years, some pro-housing advocates have pointed to CEQA as the bogeyman driving the state’s affordable …

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Judicial Deference to Agencies: A Timeline

Decisions about judicial deference to agencies on legal issues didn’t begin or end with Chevron.

The Supreme Court is about to make a major decision about the balance of power between courts and agencies like EPA. Here’s what you need to know about the history if the issue to understand what’s going today.

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EPA’s New Power Plant Rules Have Dropped. What Happens Next?

Media battles. Lawsuits. Stay requests. And political mayhem.

The release of Biden’s new climate regulations for power plants will unleash a maelstrom of legal and political battles. One key question: Will the Supreme Court short circuit the litigation process by staying the rules.

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Don’t Count Your Judicial Vultures Before They Hatch

The conservative Supreme Court majority may turn out as bad as we fear. Or maybe not.

It’s not hard to imagine the conservative super-majority pursuing its campaign against regulatory agencies like vultures picking over the bones of environmental law.  That’s certainly possible – vulture eggs do, after all, generally hatch into vultures. But it’s not by any means a done deal.  There are multiple pathways the Court could take – none …

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U.S. Supreme Court Revisits, Tightens Regulatory Takings Limits on Land Use Regulation

California Homeowner’s Takings Challenge to County’s Traffic Impact Fee Heads Back to State Court

On April 12th, the U.S. Supreme Court revisited a constitutional doctrine near and dear to its institutional heart: when and under what circumstances does a land use permit condition violate the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause? In yet another “regulatory takings” case from California, the Supreme Court wound up not answering that precise question.  Instead, the …

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Chevron Gets the Headlines, But State Farm May Be More Important

The abortion pill case could undermine the authority of agency’s expert judgments.

The Chevron doctrine requires judges to defer to an agency’s interpretation of a statute if that interpretation is reasonable. The State Farm case, which is much less widely known, requires courts to defer to an agency’s expert judgment unless its reasoning has ignored contrary evidence or has a logical hole. As you probably already know, …

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The SEC’s Watered-Down Climate Rule

Now that the SEC has approved its limited climate disclosure rule, the spotlight is back on California’s more stringent disclosure laws that still need backing.

After months of discussion, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3-2 to adopt climate reporting standards that will mandate publicly-traded companies disclose some of their greenhouse gas emissions. The SEC’s rule was proposed way back in 2022, and the initial draft would have required companies to disclose their “Scope 3” supply chain emissions, …

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Evaluating Voluntary Agreements in the Bay-Delta Watershed

Satellite image of California, centered on the Bay-Delta watershed. The Central Valley shows up prominently, with green agricultural fields rimmed by drier brown land, surrounded by mountains.

by Nell Green Nylen, Felicia Marcus, Dave Owen, and Michael Kiparsky

Updates to flow and other regulatory requirements for California’s Bay-Delta watershed are long overdue.  For much of the last 12 years, state political leadership has prioritized efforts to develop voluntary agreements (VAs) with water users over completing updates to the watershed’s water quality standards.  Now the State Water Resources Control Board has restarted the regulatory …

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