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Showing 241 results

Daniel Farber | November 3, 2022

The Supreme Court’s Earliest Pollution Cases

Well over a century ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it had 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. Yet the Court didn't hesitate to address pollution issues.

Daniel Farber | September 22, 2022

Cost-Benefit Analysis and Deep Uncertainty

Since 1981, cost-benefit analysis has been at the core of the rulemaking process. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the so-called “regulatory czar” in the White House, must approve every significant regulation based on a review of its cost-benefit analysis. But cost-benefit analysis has had a major blind spot. It embodies techniques for analyzing possible harmful outcomes when the probability of those outcomes can be quantified with reasonable confidence. When those probabilities cannot be quantified (“deep uncertainty”), the analytic path is more difficult. This issue is especially important in the context of climate change, given the potential for tipping points to produce disastrous outcomes.

Daniel Farber | September 9, 2022

Climate Policy: What’s Happening at the State Level?

States have played a critical role in U.S. climate policy. The federal government is now supporting that role with federal funding for states. In the meantime, a number of states have moved a step further in plans to phase out gas and diesel vehicles. Two key states have ramped up their plans for carbon neutrality, while offshore wind made a big step forward in the Midwest.

Daniel Farber | August 19, 2022

Making Fossil Fuels Pay for Their Damage

Production and combustion of fossil fuels impose 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.

Daniel Farber | August 8, 2022

Will the Supreme Court Gut the Clean Water Act?

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.

Daniel Farber | July 20, 2022

Declaring a Climate Change Emergency: A Citizen’s Guide, Part II

What government powers would be unlocked by declaring a climate change emergency? One immediate possibility would be to use the same power that former President Trump used to divert military construction funds to other uses -- in this case, perhaps building wind or solar farms or new transmission lines. But what else could President Biden do?

Daniel Farber | July 19, 2022

Declaring a Climate Change Emergency: A Citizen’s Guide, Part I

Based on press reports, it now seems likely that President Joe 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 declaration is not a magic wand that gives presidents a blank check. It would allow some constructive steps to be taken, but within limits.

Daniel Farber | June 27, 2022

Two FERC Cases and Why They Matter

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been called the most important environmental agency that no one has heard of. Recently, the D.C. Circuit decided two undramatic FERC cases that illustrate the agency's environmental significance. One involved a bailout to coal and nuclear plants, the other involved water quality.

Daniel Farber | June 9, 2022

Whose Interests Count? And How Much?

Should regulators take into account harm to people in other countries? What about harm to future generations? Should we give special attention when the disadvantaged are harmed? These questions are central to climate policy and some other important environmental issues. I’ll use cost-benefit analysis as a framework for discussing these issues. You probably don’t need my help in thinking about the ethical issues, so instead I’ll focus on legal and economic considerations.