Regulatory Policy

How Cohesive Are the Conservative Justices?

Signs of internal tensions within the conservative supermajority could be good news for environmental protection.

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, people known as Kremlinologists used to try to figure out what was going on behind the scenes by seeing who was standing next to whom in official photos. We have a bit more visibility into the Supreme Court, but only a bit. That being said, there are …

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Environmental Justice, Truck Pollution, and the Biden EPA

How will EPA integrate EJ into its rule making? The answer remains murky.

EPA recently released a notice of proposed rulemaking for pollution from new heavy-duty vehicles. I was interested to see how environmental justice figured into the analysis, looking for clues about how the Biden Administration plans to make EJ part of decision making.  What I found wasn’t very enlightening. Perhaps they’re still trying to come up …

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Registration Is Open for the 2022 California Water Law Symposium

California’s Most Important Annual Water Law Conference–Law Student Organized!–Set for April 9th

Registration is now open for California’s 2022 Water Law Symposium, scheduled for Saturday, April 9th. U.C. Davis School of Law has the honor of hosting this year’s Symposium, which is an extraordinary event in two respects: first, it is organized entirely by law students (rather than law firms, water organizations, law professors or commercial vendors).  …

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(Mis)Estimating Regulatory Costs

EPA’s cost estimate for its mercury rule was way, way off.

In describing cost-benefit analysis to students, I’ve often told them that the “cost” side of the equation is pretty simple. And it does seem simple: just get some engineers to figure out how industry can comply and run some spreadsheets of the costs. But this seemingly simple calculation turns out to be riddled with uncertainties, …

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Smoothing the Path for Transmission Lines

Fights over who should pay for power lines may become much easier to solve.

New high-power transmission lines have to run a regulatory gauntlet to get approved. One of the biggest barriers, however, isn’t about whether the line can be built but who will pay for it.  That has turned out to be a much knottier problem than you might think. A decision by the D.C. Circuit on Friday, …

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Don’t Leave the Public Out of the Public Utilities Commission

California may have denied due process for those questioning PGE’s penalty for starting the Kincade Fire

The Sonoma County District Attorney has been pursuing criminal charges against the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) for its role in sparking the 2019 Kincade fire, which reportedly destroyed 374 structures and led to over $600 million in damages. These criminal charges returned to the news today because the District Attorney has asked to …

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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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The Black Box of OIRA

OIRA oversees the whole regulatory state. We probably know more about the inner workings of the CIA.   

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) oversees government regulation across the federal government. Some portray it as a guardian of rationality, others as biased in favor of industry.  Public information about OIRA is so limited that it’s impossible to know one way or the other, due to the veil of secrecy that surrounds …

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Defending EPA’s Authority to Fight Climate Change – at the Supreme Court

Sean Hecht and Ted Lamm co-author amicus brief on behalf of Clean Air Act expert Tom Jorling

This week, Sean Hecht and I filed an amicus brief at the Supreme Court in West Virginia v. EPA in defense of EPA’s authority to effectively regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Our client is Tom Jorling, a former Senate staffer and EPA official who was directly involved in drafting the Act …

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Positive Signs That California’s New Housing Laws Will be Enforced

Recent Actions by California Courts & State Officials Are Encouraging, & Push Back Against Local Government Recalcitrance on the Housing Reform Front

In a recent post, I analyzed the California Legislature’s recent passage and Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing into law of two important bills–SB 9 and SB 10–designed to confront California’s well-documented housing crisis.  Those laws represent but the latest chapter in the Legislature’s record-setting enactment of numerous statutes in recent years to incentivize and mandate construction …

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