Transportation

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan: FAQs

Yes, it’s a big deal. And yes, it’s politically dicey.

Biden has announced a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, with a heavy focus on climate-related investments.  The plan is very complicated, and the news coverage hasn’t been all that helpful.  Here are the key questions we should be asking about the plan, along with my best attempts to answer. Q: What’s in the plan? A: It’s …

CONTINUE READING

Hydrogen — Fuel of the Future?

Using this tiny molecule for energy may be key to decarbonization.

As it has more than once in the past, hydrogen has become a hot topic in climate policy circles.  Although widespread use of hydrogen is probably a decade away, there’s a lot of excitement about the prospect. The fundamental appeal of hydrogen as an energy source is that it produces water rather than carbon dioxide …

CONTINUE READING

Legal Planeteer Ann Carlson Joins Biden Administration

UCLA Environmental Law Professor Named NHTSA General Counsel

President Joe Biden has appointed UCLA environmental law professor–and frequent Legal Planet contributor–Ann Carlson to serve as General Counsel of the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  NHTSA, part of the U.S. Department of Administration (USDOT), plays a key regulatory role in charting federal transportation policy. Professor Carlson has anchored UCLA School of Law’s …

CONTINUE READING

The Year Ahead

Nine key developments to watch for on the environmental front.

2020 was a tumultuous year. Hopefully, 2021 will be balmier.  Widespread use of vaccines will hopefully tame the COVID-19 pandemic, and maybe the political world will settle down a bit too.  Here are nine key things to watch for in terms of environmental policy. The Georgia runoff elections. Currently, the Republicans look likely to control …

CONTINUE READING

Biden’s Green Team

Here are the six who will lead the way on environment and energy issues.

Biden’s choices to head particular agencies have trickled out over the past few weeks.  It’s only when you put them together that you get a sense of the overall time.  It’s a very diverse group, all of whom seem to have strong environmental commitments. Pete Buttigieg, Department of Transportation.  Buttigieg is a well-known figure from …

CONTINUE READING

 “Whole of Government” Climate Policy

We need the help of far-flung parts of the federal government to deal with climate.

President Biden will have to rely on administrative action to do much or all of the heavy lifting in climate policy. It’s clear that EPA has a central role to play in climate policy, but EPA does not stand alone. Other agencies also have important roles to play. Fortunately, the Biden transition team seems to …

CONTINUE READING

President Biden & Climate Change: What’s Achievable?

Divided federal government might still allow possibility for meaningful action

With a victory in the presidential election, Joe Biden now faces a U.S. Senate that still hangs in the balance. But even with a Democratic runoff sweep in Georgia next month, it will be very divided. So what will be possible for a President Biden and his administration to achieve on climate change? Agency action, …

CONTINUE READING

Newsom’s Gas Car Phaseout is a Big Step Forward for California

A long road ahead, but undoubtedly moving in the right direction

On Wednesday, Governor Newsom issued an executive order that, among other things, directed the California Air Resources Board to develop regulations moving the state to 100 percent zero-emission passenger vehicles by 2035. The order is a long way from taking effect–at a minimum, ARB’s rulemaking process will take many months, any regulations would involve a …

CONTINUE READING

Rebuilding Environmental Protection

It will take years to fully recover from the damage of the Trump era. We will need some new ideas.

After almost four years of Trump, federal environmental protection is in about the same shape as Western Europe at the end of World War II, filled with bomb craters and destruction.  If the election turns out in Biden’s favor, he will be faced with the task of rebuilding from the smoking ruins. Here are some …

CONTINUE READING

Automakers Love to Use the Great Outdoors to Sell Cars That Pollute National Parks

Franklin Pass in Sequoia National Park

Auto companies continue campaign against progress on vehicle pollution

At the top of Franklin Pass last week, 11,710 ft above sea level and deep in Sequoia National Park, I stopped to catch my breath. There’s no doubt the altitude was affecting me, but looking back towards the thick inversion layer sitting over the western San Joaquin Valley, I had to wonder to whether pollution …

CONTINUE READING

TRENDING