Trump Administration

Where Are They Now?

Remember Trump’s appointees — Pruitt, Zinke, and the rest? Here’s where they went afterwards.

Trump’s environmental appointees were a motley crew, many lacking in relevant expertise; others with shaky ethical standards. While in office, they were daily sources of torment for environmentalists. Where are they now?  For most, being in the cabinet has been a stepping stone to nowhere. Here’s the Trump crew and their last known whereabouts. David …

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Declaring a Climate Change Emergency: A Citizen’s Guide

Would it be legal to declare a national emergency for climate change? Would it be useful? Here’s what you need to know.

Based on press reports, it now seems likely that Biden will soon declare climate change to be a national emergency.  Would this be legal? Would it unlock important powers that could be used to fight climate change?  My answers are: It would probably be legal, and it would unlock some significant powers. But an emergency …

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The Supreme Court Curbs Climate Action

The ruling in West Virginia v. EPA was about as good as we could expect given the makeup of the Court.

Today, the Supreme Court decided its most important environmental case since 2007.  We didn’t dodge the bullet. It’s more than a flesh wound but it didn’t hit any vital organs .  Chief Justice Roberts’s majority opinion leaves EPA other options to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.  It also gives a fairly narrow reading …

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After the Court Rules: Gaming out Responses to a Cutback in EPA Authority

The Supreme Court is almost certain to cut back on EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. What then?

In West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court is reviewing Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) itself no longer has any practical relevance, but there’s every reason to predict the Court will strike it down anyway. The ruling will also restrict EPA’s future options. The big question is what the Biden Administration …

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Biden Undoes NEPA Rollback

Trump tried to keep climate change out of environmental impact statements. Biden was right to scotch that effort.

Yesterday, the White House undid an effort by the Trump Administration to undermine the use of environmental impact statements. The pre-Trump rules had been in effect since 1978. Restoring the 1978 version was the right thing to do. The Trump’s rules arbitrarily limited the scope of the environmental effects that EPA can consider.  Their goal …

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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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One Year and Counting

How does Biden’s first year compare with Trump’s? Biden has been much more effective.

If you compare Biden’s performance with his promised agenda, the first year has been disappointing. If instead you compare him with his predecessor, Biden has done more to achieve his environmental goals. The difference is that Trump was judged on the basis of his rhetoric, while Biden is judged based on his achievement. Four years …

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The Least Surprising Disaster in History

Some disasters come as shocking surprises. Climate change is the opposite.

Whatever you want to say about climate change, you can’t say we’ve been blindsided.  The US has had decades to take action against climate change, and we spent nearly half that time deliberately making things worse. Scientists have had reasons for concern about climate change for over a century, and the first government report on …

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The Quagmire of Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

The scope of federal jurisdiction over water bodies and wetlands remains as murky as ever.

The Biden Administration announced on Monday that it would not meet a February target date to issue a revised definition of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. It still plans to issue a revised definition later in the year. That sounds like a very technical issue. But it actually determines the extent to which …

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Debating Environmental Racism in the Ninth Circuit

A recent case occasioned a sharp exchange about accusation of environmental racism.

 Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. FAA is a Ninth Circuit opinion decided before the Thanksgiving break. It involved to a legal challenge to the FAA’s refusal to prepare a full-scale environmental impact statement before approving a major Amazon distribution center at the San Bernardino airport. I probably wouldn’t have read the decision …

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