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Cathy A. Buckley, Sophie Loeb | February 15, 2024

North Carolina Utilities Commission Should Ensure Public Participation on Proposed New Methane Gas Plants

As North Carolinians continue to grapple with rolling blackouts and rising energy bills, yet another pending environmental catastrophe is developing in our backyards. Duke Energy, our state’s monopoly utility provider, has submitted filings for two new methane gas power plants — one at the current Roxboro coal plant in Person County and another at the Marshall plant on Lake Norman.

Daniel Farber | January 10, 2024

The Bumper Crop of New State Climate Policies Since July — Part II

State climate policy is a big deal. State governments began cutting emissions at a time when the federal government was essentially doing nothing about climate change. Since then, more states have become involved. Part II of this post covers state climate action from New Jersey to Washington State during the second half of 2023, as well as multi-state efforts.

Daniel Farber | January 10, 2024

The Bumper Crop of New State Climate Policies Since July — Part I

State climate policy is a big deal. State governments began cutting emissions at a time when the federal government was essentially doing nothing about climate change. Since then, more states have become involved, and state policies have become more aggressive. It’s not for nothing that 2023 was called a banner year for state climate action. The state developments in just the second half of the year make up an impressive list. Part I of this post covers state climate action from California to Michigan.

Hannah Wiseman | November 16, 2023

Invoicing Carbon Under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

A recent Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania decision has thrown Pennsylvania’s actions on climate change into further disarray. In 2021, through regulatory action by its Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania became a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a collection of Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states that have agreed to cap emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from electric power plants with 25 megawatts or more of generating capacity. The cap includes an overall regional limit and a cap for each state. Power plants must purchase allowances or offset their emissions (or pursue other options noted below) to collectively meet the state cap. But lawsuits have challenged Pennsylvania’s entry into RGGI, and on November 1, a memorandum opinion of the Commonwealth Court declared that Pennsylvania’s scheme for auctioning CO2 allowances under the state’s RGGI cap was an unconstitutional tax. The court voided the rulemaking.

A family exiting their electric vehicle

Catalina Gonzalez | November 15, 2023

New Report Series Explores Equity in California’s Climate and Clean Energy Funding Programs

On November 15, I joined Member Scholar and University of San Francisco School of Law professor Alice Kaswan in releasing an in-depth analysis of California’s climate and clean energy funding programs for the state’s historically marginalized and underserved communities. The set of reports and fact sheets, "Funding a Clean and Equitable Energy Transition: Lessons from California," follows the recent publication of the Center’s California Climate Justice Index, which details the laws, executive orders, agencies, funding processes, and funding programs that shape climate policy for the nation’s most populous state.

Uma Outka | November 13, 2023

Federal-State Conflicts Over Environmental Justice — Parts I and II

In his first month in office, President Biden signed an executive order, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” recommitting the federal government to climate action and environmental justice. In April 2023, an additional executive order, “Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All,” reinforced the administration’s commitment to a “whole-of-government approach to environmental justice.” The renewed commitment to environmental justice is gratifying for all who care about these issues — and the challenge of accomplishing whole-of-government implementation is real. Among numerous complicating aspects of this shift, one key challenge is state resistance — even outright hostility — to federal environmental justice priorities.

Shelley Welton | November 8, 2023

Environmental Justice via Industrial Policy

This summer, we marked the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the United States’ most significant climate change law. Many advocates for environmental justice, myself included, were disappointed by several features of the Act, including the greenlighting of certain fossil fuel infrastructure projects. Nevertheless, the law unlocked unprecedented streams of investment into clean energy via tax credits and direct spending mechanisms.

Lemir Teron | November 6, 2023

A Moment for Energy Justice

Energy justice mandates that renewable energy transitions center marginalized and historically overburdened households, including fenceline and extraction communities, that have faced heightened burdens from the prevalent fossil fuel-based energy system, and further have been mostly overlooked by the burgeoning renewable energy sector.

Carmen Gonzalez, Rebecca Bratspies | November 1, 2023

The Unbearable Whiteness of Environmental Law

Member Scholar John Knox's article, Environmental Justice as Environmental Human Rights, recognizes the many accomplishments of U.S. environmental law while pointedly acknowledging its greatest shortcoming: the failure to address environmental racism. As a solution, the article proposes stronger linkages between environmental justice movements and international human rights law. As the article explains, international human rights law provides an important tool for understanding how environmental racism undermines U.S. environmental law.