This op-ed was originally published in The Hill.
“Data drives policy, and the lack of data drives policy,” according to former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) environmental justice official Mustafa Santiago Ali. This crucial insight succinctly encapsulates one of the fundamental disconnects between the Clean Air Act and environmental justice.
A bill pending in Congress called the Public Health Air Quality Act aims to bridge that divide by significantly enhancing our nation’s air pollution monitoring infrastructure and improving community access to monitoring data.
Lying at the core of the legislation is a concept called “information justice.” Information justice starts from the recognition that policy-relevant uncertainty is an inescapable feature of environmental decision-making. Agencies like the EPA simply will never have perfect information when deciding whether and how to address a particular pollution risk.
Critically, such uncertainty entails certain costs in the form of suboptimal regulatory policies. While the EPA cannot fully eliminate those costs, it can determine how they are distributed by how it chooses to act in the face of such uncertainty. Information justice seeks to ensure that these costs are distributed as fairly as possible. In practice, that means adopting a default rule that shifts these costs to …
This post was originally published on Legal Planet. Reprinted with permission.
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 wait to jump in until then. Instead, the Court reached out to grab Sackett v. EPA, where landowners take a really extreme position on the subject. Not a good sign.
A little quick background: The term "navigable waters" traditionally meant water bodies that could be used for transportation. When it passed the Clean Water Act, Congress redefined the term to mean "waters of the United States." Everyone agrees that this term covers at least traditional navigable waters and wetlands on …
On July 27, I had the privilege of testifying at the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) public hearing regarding the Duke Energy Carbon Plan. The Asheville hearing was one of six forums designated for public witness testimony on the proposed decarbonization plan.
In 2019, North Carolina joined 34 other states investing in solar, wind, and other renewable resources when it passed its Clean Energy Power Plan, and, in 2021, when it passed House Bill 951, which commits to a 70 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. When Duke Energy, a major corporation with outsized influence over the state’s decarbonization plan, submitted its proposal to meet those goals, it failed to account for affordability and equity.
The company and NCUC have also not meaningfully engaged with low-wealth ratepayers in the process. These public hearings are intended to promote community engagement; however, the extent …
Last week, the Center for Progressive Reform joined 90 organizations in expressing strong support for the Environmental Justice for All Act (EJ for All Act) in a letter as the bill went before the House Committee on Natural Resources for markup.
The coalition, led by Coming Clean, a collaborative of environmental health and environmental justice experts, and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA) for Chemical Policy Reform, urged committee members to advance this important legislation to the House floor. The bill, introduced by Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona and Donald McEachin of Virginia, is the most significant effort by the federal government to address generations of environmental racism.
Although the bill passed in committee last Tuesday by a 26 to 21 vote, its future is unclear. Before the bill is sent to the House floor, it must overcome concerns that it has jurisdictional overlap with the …