Water

That Was The Year That Was

The Biggest Environmental Stories of 2022

A lot has happened on the environmental front. Here are the biggest stories of 2022. Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, providing $369 billion in tax credit and spending to reduce carbon emissions. California banned the sale of new gas cars in 2035, with several other states now agreeing to follow suit. The Democrats lost …

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The Passing of a Respected Water Warrior

Remembering California Water Law Attorney Clifford Lee

Clifford (Cliff) Lee, one of California’s most knowledgable and respected water law experts, died suddenly late last month.  His passing leaves a tremendous void in the field of California water law and policy. After earning his undergraduate degree from U.C. Berkeley, Cliff attended law school at U.C. Davis and quickly became entranced by water law.  …

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The Supreme Court’s Earliest Pollution Cases

Long before Congress, a notoriously conservative Court started taking pollution seriously.

Well over a century ago, the Supreme Court ruled that it had that power to remedy interstate water pollution. That was in 1901. Six years later, the Court decided its first air pollution case.  Notably, these cases came during the conservative Lochner era when the Court was hardly known for its liberalism.  Quite the contrary. …

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Happy 50th Anniversary, Federal Clean Water Act

One of America’s Foundational Environmental Laws Has Proven Transformational, But Requires Updating a Half-Century Later

The Clean Water Act (CWA), one of the nation’s most important environmental laws, is 50 years old today.  It’s proven to be one of the most successful of America’s bedrock federal environmental statutes.  But the CWA is far from perfect, needs some important updating, and will probably never fully achieve the aspirational goals Congress proclaimed …

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On the First Monday in October, the Sacketts Head to the Supreme Court a Second Time

Sackett v. EPA–the Most Important Environmental Case on the Justices’ Current Docket–Will Answer the Key Question of How Far Federal Wetlands Regulation Extends Under the Clean Water Act

Today the U.S. Supreme Court formally begins its 2022-23 Term.  First up on the justices’ docket this morning is a major environmental case: Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 21-454. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  Over the past half-century, no single CWA issue has proven more contentious and …

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U.C. Davis Law School to Host “Clean Water Act at 50” Conference

Interdisciplinary Event Will Assess Landmark Law’s Past, Assess Its Future

On Friday, October 7th, the California Environmental Law & Policy Center at U.C. Davis School of Law will convene a major, day-long conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act.  The event will assess the progress the U.S. has made over the past half-century in abating water pollution; focus on some …

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Making Fossil Fuels Pay for Their Damage

A carbon tax doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Maybe a clean-up tax would fare better.

Production and combustion of fossil fuels imposes enormous costs on society, which the industry doesn’t pay for.  I want to talk about some options for using the tax system to change that.  One option, a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, gets the most attention but seems politically impossible.  The closest we’ve ever come to a …

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Will the Supreme Court Gut the Clean Water Act?

We’re about to find out in an upcoming case.

What wetlands and waterbodies does the Clean Water Act protect? Congress failed to provide a clear answer when it passed the statute, and the issue has been a bone of contention ever since.  The Biden Administration is in the process of issuing a new regulation on the subject. Normally, you’d expect the Supreme Court to …

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Climate Adaptation Moves Toward Center Stage

There’s an increasing bipartisan move to fund climate resilience.

The big news today is the deal with Manchin to  provide billions of dollars of funding for clean energy. Manchin’s vote will be needed because no Republican Senator will vote for the bill.  In contrast, funding for climate resilience has drawing power even for Republicans. It seems to be true that, in Bob Dylan’s words …

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California Adopts Nation-Leading Legislation to Cut Plastic Pollution

Less than 10 percent of the world’s plastic waste is recycled. Photo credit: Bo Eide, Flickr

Extended producer responsibility law will reduce single-use waste and shift responsibility to industry

In a welcome reprieve from news coming out of the Supreme Court, here’s an uplifting story from the Golden State: On Thursday, Governor Newsom signed SB 54, a comprehensive piece of legislation aimed at significantly reducing single-use waste. The law will affect just about every type of plastic packaging you see walking down the supermarket …

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