Cap-and-Trade Could Fill Gaps in Governor Wolf's Climate Change Executive Order
by Amy Sinden | January 30, 2019
This post was originally published by JURIST.
The news on the climate crisis has been bad lately and getting worse. In the face of President Trump's continued denial and his administration's diligent efforts to roll back every shred of progress made by the Obama administration and to prop up an ailing coal industry, the warnings from the scientific community have only become more dire.
In November, 13 of Trump's own agencies released a 1,600-page report confirming that climate change is already impacting communities across the country — bringing major storms, droughts, disease, water shortages, and more. That came on the heels of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warning that climate change is occurring more rapidly than previously thought. The report predicted catastrophic consequences if we don't make "rapid," "far-reaching," and "unprecedented" "transitions in energy, land, infrastructure, and industrial systems" within the next 12 years.
What a relief, then, to actually get some good news on climate this month. Governor Wolf's January 8 Executive Order on the climate crisis is welcome news indeed and undoubtedly a step in the right direction. His order calls climate change "the most critical environmental threat confronting our world" and sets specific goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania — 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels. While a number of other
The Worst of a Bad Lot
Originally published on Legal Planet. The Trump administration has many energy and environmental initiatives, none of them good. But in terms of shoddy analysis and tenuous evidence, the worst is the administration's attempt to freeze fuel efficiency standards. For sheer lack of professionalism, the administration's cost-benefit analysis is hard to match. And you can't even say that the administration is captive to industry, because this isn't something industry asked for. It's a case of untethered ideology trumping evidence and economics.
What's Wrong with Juliana (and What's Right?)
Originally published on Legal Planet. Juliana v. United States, often called the "children's case," is an imaginative effort to make the federal government responsible for its role in promoting the production and use of fossil fuels and its failure to control carbon emissions. The plaintiffs ask the court to "declare [that] the United States' current environmental policy infringes their fundamental rights, direct the agencies to conduct a consumption-based inventory of United States CO2 emissions," and use that inventory to "prepare and
Wheeler Hearing Provides Opportunity to Learn More about 'Benefits-Busting' Rule
During his tenure, former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt launched multiple assaults on environmental and public health safeguards. His attacks on clean air standards and water quality regulations made so little sense in our reality that he went to the absurd and extreme lengths of creating an alternative reality to make them look legitimate. That alternative reality is rendered in the "benefits-busting" rule, which would systematically distort the analyses EPA economists conduct to assess the economic impacts of
Using Emergency Powers to Fight Climate Change
Originally published on Legal Planet. Republicans are apparently worried that if Trump could use emergency powers by declaring border security a national emergency, the next president could do the same thing for climate change. There's no doubt that this would be far more legitimate than Trump's wall effort. Border crossings are much lower than they were ten years ago; he has said in the recent past that his prior efforts have vastly improved border security. In contrast, the Pentagon has classified
How Trump Officials Abuse Cost-Benefit Analysis to Attack Regulations
This op-ed was orignally published in the Washington Monthly. In December of 2017, Donald Trump gathered the press for a variation on a familiar activity from his real estate mogul days. Stretched between a tower of paper taller than himself, representing all current federal regulations, and a small stack labeled "1960," was a thick piece of red ribbon – red tape, if you will. The president promised that "we're going to get back below that 1960s level." With his daughter
The Year Ahead
A version of this post was originally published on Legal Planet. What are the key things to watch for in 2019 in the environmental area? Regulations. According to the Trump administration’s schedule, three big rules should be issued in March: repeal of the Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS), repeal and replacement of the Clean Power Plan, and the freeze on fuel efficiency standards. This seems very ambitious to me, especially for the last two where there are major technical
Seven Bright Spots of 2018
A version of this post was originally published on Legal Planet. Yes, it was a grim year in many ways. But there actually were some bright spots. Here are just the high points. Scott Pruitt. Pruitt resigned under fire. While his successor may be more successful in some ways, the fact remains that Pruitt was a disgrace. We're better off without him. Trump was apparently unfazed by his incompetence and aversion to hard work. But the succession of scandals and
Top Ten Regulatory Policy Stories of 2018 (IMHO)
While regulatory policy developments might not lead evening news broadcasts or dominate newspaper headlines, they can have an enormous impact on our day-to-day lives. Regulatory policy has been a particular hotbed of activity during the Trump administration, which swept into office determined to undermine or corrupt the institutions responsible for keeping Americans and their environment secure against unacceptable risks of harm. So, it is no surprise that 2018 was another busy year in regulatory policy. Here are 10 of the
Planning for the Public Health Effects of Climate Migration
This post was originally published by the Wilson Center's New Security Beat. In Alaska's arctic communities, Inuit contemplating the need to relocate have reported that the loss of sea ice would make them feel like they are lost or going crazy. Zika and other vector-borne diseases have been a concern primarily for people in the southeastern United States. Recent research on the long-range internal migration of people from the coasts to the interior suggests a broader national concern regarding "climate
Chesapeake Bay Year in Review: A Beneath-the-Headlines Look at Some of the Biggest Restoration and Clean-up Issues
It's that point in the year when we take a step back and reflect on the past 12 months. This was a big year for those concerned about restoring the Chesapeake Bay, with plenty of feel-good stories about various species and ecosystems rebounding more quickly than expected. There were also more than a few headlines about record-setting rainfalls washing trash down the rivers, over dams, and coating the Bay's shores. But I am going to look beneath the headlines at
The New WOTUS Proposed Rule and the Myths of Clean Water Act Federalism
by Dave Owen | December 11, 2018
Originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog. This morning, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA released a proposed new rule that would change the agencies' shared definition of "waters of the United States." That phrase defines the geographic scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule would narrow the scope of federal jurisdiction, primarily in two ways. First, it would eliminate jurisdiction for "ephemeral" streams – that is, streams where water flows only during
Two Years and Counting: Looking Forward
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. In terms of regulatory policy, the second half of Trump's term is shaping up to look a lot like Obama's final two years in office. Congress won't be doing much to advance Trump's environment and energy agenda, as was the case with Obama. So, like Obama, Trump's focus will be on administrative action, particularly regulatory initiatives (or deregulatory ones, in Trump's case). The big question is how these efforts will fare in court. I want to
Two Years and Counting: A Historical Perspective
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. This is the second of three posts assessing the first two years of the Trump administration. You can read the first post here. We all seem to be subscribed to the "All Trump News, All the Time" newsfeed. It may be helpful to step back a bit and compare Trump with his last Republican predecessor, George W. Bush. How do the two stack up? Bush and Trump were very different in character and style, but their
Two Years and Counting: Trump at Mid-Term
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. In September 2017 – that seems so long ago! – Eric Biber and I released a report assessing the state of play in environmental issues 200 days into the Trump administration, based on an earlier series of blog posts. As we end Trump's second year, it's time to bring that assessment up to date. This is the first of three posts examining what Trump has done (and hasn't done) in terms of environment and energy. For
Opinion Analysis: Frogs and Humans Live to Fight Another Day
This post was originally published on SCOTUSblog. It is republished here under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US). In a mixed-bag ruling, a unanimous Supreme Court returned Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to decide several questions not answered on the first go-round. Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion for the court appears calculated to decide just enough to justify shipping the case back to the lower court.
Legal Scholars File Brief Supporting National Monuments Case against Trump
In 2017, President Trump signed a proclamation reducing by about 85 percent the size of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, a large landscape of pristine red rock canyons and culturally and historically significant Native American sites. He claimed that he had the authority to shrink this and any other national monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and had previously ordered the Department of the Interior to review additional monuments whose designations stretch back decades. But does federal law really
Farm Bill 2018 -- Where Are We Going Post-Midterms?
The midterm elections are over, and most of the races have been decided. The outcome will have consequences for a wide variety of policies and legislation, including the 2018 Farm Bill. So what's the status of the bill? What are its prospects for passage during what remains of the 115th Congress? And how will the current and near-future political landscape impact the legislation's conservation provisions? To answer these questions and more, I moderated a recent Center for Progressive Reform webinar
The planet faces unprecedented environmental challenges. Heading the list of threats is climate change, but other problems persist, including air and water pollution, toxic waste, and the protection of natural resources and wildlife. In recent years, we've been reminded that many of these problems , in their way, magnify the harm from natural disasters.
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