Regulatory Policy

U.C. Davis’ “ESA at 40” Conference Now Available for Online Viewing

The federal Endangered Species Act turned 40 this past weekend. On December 28, 1973, then-President Richard Nixon signed into law what has proven to be the nation’s most controversial environmental law. So it’s an especially appropriate time to alert Legal Planet readers that a major, recent conference on the ESA sponsored by the U.C. Davis …

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The Food Safety Paradox

As Tom McGarity documents in his recent book, Freedom to Harm, the American food safety system is in disarray.  You’d think we’d all be wiped out by food poisoning.  Yet, the rate of sickness caused by bad food seems to have remained constant since the mid-nineties.  What’s going on? McGarity and others are right about the …

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California Headed for Record Drought: Will Critically-Needed Reforms Follow?

Confronting a Looming Environmental Disaster

The Sacramento Bee’s fine environmental reporter, Matt Weiser, yesterday reported on a looming, major drought facing California and its regional neighbors. The figures aren’t pretty.  A persistent high-pressure front stretching over the Gulf of Alaska and most of the Northern Pacific has diverted the normal fall and winter storm track away from California and other …

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New on Ecology Law Currents

Ecology Law Currents, ELQ’s online companion, features lively short-form commentary. Check out the latest, an analysis of California’s cap-and-trade program. Author Penni Takade argues that the program has two key weaknesses: The first weakness is the process of allocation for GHG allowances to regulated firms. Under California’s allocation process, cap and trade will exacerbate economic …

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Going for Broke at the Climate Casino

The new Nordhaus book is good as far as it goes. But its analysis is muddled in crucial respects.

I finally had a chance to read Nordhaus’s new book, The Climate Casino, on a long flight.  There are some goods lessons in the book. The book makes the case for serious mitigation, even rhough Nordhaus takes a fairly optimistic view about adaptation. Nordhaus also tells us that “it would be relatively inexpensive to slow …

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Why Pollution Regulations Aren’t Taxes

Opponents of environmental regulations love to call them hidden taxes. But constant repetition doesn’t make this idea true.

If you’ve seen a statement that regulations are hidden taxes, that’s not too surprising.  Googling  “regulation hidden taxes” produces over three million hits.  But in fact, pollution regulations and taxes are completely different. The reason is simple. A tax removes value  from the private sector.   Environmental regulations simultaneously remove value  from one part of …

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The Filibuster and the Environment

In the short run, limiting the filibuster will strengthen the hands of environmental regulators. What about the long run effects?

The filibuster arguably served a useful function when it allowed the minority to block action in extraordinary cases where its views were especially intense.  It became no longer tolerable when it became a routine barrier to Senate action. Last week, the Senate abolished filibusters for nominations (except the Supreme Court). What does this mean for environmental …

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The Rhetoric of Cap and Trade

Different ways of framing the concept of cap and trade help drive the public debate.

Discussions of cap and trade tend to frame it in various ways, which often skews the debate.  These different frameworks guide the thoughts of both supporters and critics, sometimes in surprising ways.  There are four different ways to talk about cap and trade, and they tend to lead the debate in very different directions. The …

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Renewable Energy Beyond 2020 — Lunchtime Conference at UCLA Law next Tuesday

Free event will also launch a new report from UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools on this topic

Please join us on Tuesday, November 19th at UCLA Law for a free lunchtime panel presentation on the future of California’s renewable energy policies beyond 2020.  California is on pace to meet the goal of securing 33 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2020.  What energy goals should …

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Private Flood Protection

Private flood control is no substitute for government action.

Last week, the NY Times had a story about Verizon’s new flood barrier for its Wall Street building, which is a designated landmark. On one level, it’s a pretty cool project — a portable barrier designed to keep out the water during a hundred-year storm (plus  2-feet for storm surge plus an extra foot to …

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