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Showing 443 results

Federico Holm | May 1, 2024

Permitting Reform and the Incidence of NEPA as a Source of “Delays”

Since the passage of landmark legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law during the Biden administration, we’ve repeatedly heard that we’re at a critical junction: There is a need to expand and accelerate environmental, climate, and clean energy policy implementation and opportunities to do so, but the pathway toward this goal will be plagued by significant delays. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has become a common scapegoat in this fight, with critics charging that the sometimes lengthy and complicated environmental review process NEPA requires is the main thing holding up decarbonization and the clean energy transition. This has led to calls from across the political spectrum for “reforming” the statute. This assumption, however, misrepresents what happens on the ground.

Daniel Farber | March 28, 2024

The New EPA Car Rule Doesn’t Violate the Major Questions Doctrine

In West Virginia v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. The heart of the ruling was that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had engaged in a power grab, basing an unprecedented expansion of its regulatory authority on an obscure provision of the statute. Conservative groups have claimed since then that virtually every government regulation raises a major question. But the doctrine cannot be read that broadly. In particular, the doctrine does not apply to the emission standards for cars that EPA issued last week. As EPA explains in its prologue to the rule, the car standard is very different from the Clean Power Plan.

Daniel Farber | March 26, 2024

Chevron Gets the Headlines, But State Farm May Be More Important

The Chevron doctrine requires judges to defer to an agency’s interpretation of a statute if that interpretation is reasonable. The State Farm case, which is much less widely known, requires courts to defer to an agency’s expert judgment unless its reasoning has ignored contrary evidence or has a logical hole. As you probably already know, two cases now before the Court will probably result in abandoning or revamping Chevron. But the “abortion pill” case that will be argued today will test the Court’s adherence to State Farm. Will the conservative Justices stand by State Farm even when doing so expands access to abortion?

air pollution

Victor Flatt | March 14, 2024

Op-ed: Whether the Government Requires It or Not, Greenhouse Gas Disclosures Are Here to Stay 

Last week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released its long-awaited final rule requiring publicly traded companies to report certain climate risks and greenhouse gas emissions as part of their financial risk disclosures.

Robert Fischman | February 29, 2024

A Proposal to Leverage More Conservation Benefits from National Wildlife Refuges

How should the United States manage the largest biodiversity conservation system to be greater than the sum of its parts? This vexing question for the national wildlife refuges has received scant attention for the past quarter century. Now the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service), which administers the refuge system, has proposed a rule to guide specific refuge decisions to ensure they contribute to a national network rather than incrementally fray the web of conservation.

Federico Holm | February 22, 2024

Fine Particle Pollution: Unevenly Distributed, Driven by Heavy Traffic, and Supercharged by E-commerce

On February 7, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new and stronger air quality standards for fine particle pollution (commonly known as soot), a harmful pollutant and byproduct of burning coal, manufacturing, oil refining, and motor vehicles. Soot is one of the nation’s most dangerous air pollutants, and one of the most widespread, though it disproportionately impacts the health of structurally marginalized communities. Multiple reports have found that people living within half a mile of warehouses have higher rates of asthma and heart attacks than residents in the area overall, increased risk of cancer, and nervous system effects.

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.

air pollution

Daniel Farber | February 13, 2024

The New Particulate Standard and the Courts

EPA has just issued a rule tightening the air quality standard for PM2.5 — the tiny particles most dangerous to health — from an annual average of 12 micrograms per cubic meter down to 9 micrograms per cubic meter. EPA estimates that, by the time the rule goes into effect in 2032, it will avoid 4,500 premature deaths, 800,000 asthma attacks, and 290,000 lost workdays. Most likely, by the time this post goes up, someone will have filed a lawsuit to overturn the EPA rule. What legal arguments will challengers raise, and what are their chances of winning? Let’s consider the possible challenges one by one.

Daniel Farber | February 8, 2024

The Long Life and Sudden Demise of Federal Wetlands Protection

In 2023, the Supreme Court ended 50 years of broad federal protection of wetlands in Sackett v. United States. It is only when you look back at the history of federal wetlands regulation that you realize just how radical and destructive this decision was.