Regulatory Policy

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 …

CONTINUE READING

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, …

CONTINUE READING

Recentering Environmental Law: A Thought Experiment

If we had understood then what we know now. . . .

In 1965, scientists sent LBJ a memo mentioning the risks of climate change. Imagine if history had been a little different. Suppose it had been this memo and a follow-up report, rather than Rachel Carson’s attack on pesticides, that sparked the environmental movement. How would environmental law look different and how might we be thinking about …

CONTINUE READING

The New Particulate Standard and the Courts

The tough new air quality standard is sure to be challenged in court. Winning the challenges will be tougher.

EPA has just issued a rule tightening the air quality standard for PM2.5 — the tiny particles most dangerous to health — from an annual average of 12 μg/m³  (micrograms per cubic meter) down to 9 μg/m³. EPA estimates that, by the time the rule goes into effect in 2032, it will avoid 4500 premature …

CONTINUE READING

Power Play: The Effects of Overruling Chevron

Who will win and who will lose if Chevron is overruled?

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about whether to overrule the Chevron doctrine.  That doctrine allows administrative agencies that implement statutes to resolve ambiguities in those statutes. Overruling the doctrine would shift that power to courts.  Institutionally, then, judges would be the big winners, with more sway over how laws are implemented. …

CONTINUE READING

The U.S. Supreme Court & Environmental Law in 2024

Numerous Key Environmental Issues and Doctrines Will Confront the Justices This Year

As we begin 2024, it’s useful to identify and assess the many environmental issues that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide this year.  It seems likely that the conservative majority of the justices will erode or, perhaps, dramatically jettison longstanding principles of environmental law and policy in the coming months. Summarized below are …

CONTINUE READING

California Courts Foil Westlands Water District’s Grinch-Like Water Grab

Westlands’ Efforts to Permanently Privatize California Water Opposed by Unique Coalition & Rejected by Skeptical Judges

While there’s a great deal that’s dysfunctional and downright wrong about water law and policy in California, occasionally there are positive developments to report.  So it’s most satisfying to end 2023 with some good news regarding water in the Golden State. This is the saga of how the Westlands Water District tried to privatize a …

CONTINUE READING

The Environmental Gifts of the Magi

Clean air. Clean water. We receive these public goods every day without payment, as gifts from everyone to all of us.

One of the Christmas classics is the Jimmy Stewart movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Stewart’s character is feeling suicidal, until he learns how much he has unknowingly helped others and how grateful they are. It’s heartwarming if also very corny. There’s a flip side to that story: the need to remember how much others have contributed …

CONTINUE READING

A Big Year on Legal Planet

Planet Earth evolving

Here are the 12 most popular topics in environmental law and climate policy on Legal Planet based on our most-read posts from 2023.

It’s an understatement to say that 2023 was a transformative year for the U.S. climate movement. We saw rapid implementation of landmark federal climate laws, a series of big actions on methane emissions, a deal on Colorado River water usage, and bigger-than-expected climate victories in Sacramento. EPA’s control of toxic chemicals was tested, the U.S. …

CONTINUE READING

Climate Change and the Hard-Headed Realist

Henry Kissinger showed that you don’t have to have a shred of idealism to favor climate action.

It’s not surprising that Bernie Sanders said, rather emphatically, that he was not a friend of Kissinger’s.  Yet there was one issue where they did agree:  climate change. If there was one thing that Henry Kissinger stood for, it was the hard-headed “realist” view of foreign policy — a view that prioritizes national interest at …

CONTINUE READING

TRENDING