Regulatory Policy

Virus Denial

Yet another effort to ignore reality, from the usual players.

We’ve seen this movie before. Scientists warn of a serious threat. But in Trump World, the problem doesn’t exist. It’s just a product of alarmism. First, climate change. Now, the coronavirus, COVID-19. Trump himself has worked hard to minimize the problem. “We have very few people with it,” he said, and ” people are getting …

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Another Problem with Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate Policy

It’s hard to estimate benefits. But it turns out costss are also uncertain.

It’s common knowledge— at least, among people who follow these things — that it is hard to estimate the benefits of a proposed climate policy.  But it’s actually quite difficult to estimate the costs as well. There are three major problems in estimating the benefits of  a proposed climate policy.  First, it’s hard to estimate …

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From the Grand Canyon to Contaminated Cantaloupes – and More

Five books with fresh perspectives on environmental issues.

Law reviews make little effort to track new books, unlike other journals in other disciplines . So it’s pretty much hit-or-miss whether you learn about relevant new books.  I wanted to share some interesting finds that have crossed my desk, joined a growing pile of unread books, and then slowly left the pile. The subjects …

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Charging Consumers for Imaginary Power Needs

FERC is distorting energy markets in the name of perfect competition.

Last year, the GOP majority on FERC decided that state clean energy policies were distorting energy markets in the country’s largest grid region.  Because they provided incentives for power producers, FERC ruled, those policies should be considered subsidies. It directed grid operators to introduce new policies to counter those subsidies and halt the dreadful onslaught …

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Climate Change and the Financial Industry

How is one of the world’s largest industries responding to climate change?

As of 2018, the U.S. financial industry contributed $1.5 trillion to GDP.  How is the financial sector responding to climate change?  The short answer is “slowly so far, but there are signs of progress.” For instance, just last Friday, the NY Times reported that European Central Bank began a strategy review with climate change on …

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Pricing Carbon: What Does It Actually Accomplish?

Pricing carbon may not work the way economists thought.

In theory, pricing carbon should incentivize emissions reductions.  In reality, it is unclear to what extent that takes place unless the carbon price is very high.  This is not to say that pricing carbon is useless, but the main benefits may take different forms. Basically, there are two ways of putting a price on carbon.  …

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New California Report on State Climate Policies Released

Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee Recommends Focus on Transportation, Affordability, Allowance Banking, Allowance Supply and the Effects of Overlapping Policies in the Regional Electricity Market

The California Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee released its annual report yesterday making recommendations about California climate policy. I serve as the Vice Chair of  the committee and as the Speaker of the Assembly’s appointee. Our report makes five recommendations: that the state focus on the affordability of its carbon policies, with special concern about …

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Pride Goeth Before a Fall

Trump thinks he can tell courts how to interpret NEPA. He’s wrong.

White House has just released its proposed revisions to the rules about environmental impact statements. The  White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) simply does not have the kind of power that it is trying to arrogate to itself. The proposal is marked by hubris about the government’s ability to control how the courts apply the …

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Revolt of the Captive Scientists

Trump’s Scientific Advisory Board Slams Proposed EPA Rules

Trump has appointed  most of the members of EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), many of them selected from industry. That effort to stack SAB in favor of deregulation apparently wasn’t a complete success. In draft reports issued this week, the SAB scathingly criticized those efforts and even went so far as to give a nod …

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Bright Spots of 2019 (Yes, there were some!)

A bad year in many ways, but with promising signs for the future.

It’s been a tumultuous and often grim year in terms of environmental protection. The Trump Administration continued its onslaught against environmental protection, completing major regulatory rollbacks. Nevertheless, there were some rays of sun through the darkening clouds. State Initiatives.  Progress as the state level continued, as it has throughout the Trump Administration.  New York State …

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