By GGU Prof. Alan Ramo
A report of the October 1st meeting of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee in Environment and Energy Publishing’s website caught my attention for two reasons. First, in the October 2nd, 2014, article written by E&E reporter Robin Bravender, “Top brass on defense as environmental justice advocates slam climate rule”, EPA Chief Gina McCarthy reportedly acted “surprised” when a NEJAC member criticized the new EPA greenhouse gas power plant rule. McCarthy apparently was not aware that her Environmental Justice office widely advertised a July 21, 2014, webinar entitled, “What’s at Stake: Environmental Justice and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.” That webinar, sponsored by WEACT, featured a number of environmental justice advocates, including Brent Newell of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, who roundly criticized aspects of the proposal. (For webinar, go to http://www.weact.org/ejcleanair/resources/index.html and scroll down to “webinar.”) Continue reading
In Spring 2014 GGU, under the direction of Associate Professor Kathleen Morris, hosted a groundbreaking collaboration between cities seeking law and policy advice and GGU law students. In response to client questions, over several months our students produced wonderful law and policy papers that will be put to use in the real world.
One paper in particular caught our attention at CUEL as it fits within one of our themes of “Urban Greenspace.” The paper is entitled, “Progressive Cities: Models for Using Public Land for Community Gardens”, by Lynne Rose Maylath, and can be accessed on our Greenspace page here. A related blog page from a few years ago on San Francisco’s efforts can be accessed here.
GGU’s Prof. Ramo will post tweets on his account whenever the CUEL blog has a new post, or something exciting in environmental law is brewing. He is at greenlaw@envirolawprof.
By Alan Ramo
The Supreme Court today refused to consider a petition requesting review of the Ninth Circuit’s approval of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The court provided no reasons. See our blog on the En Banc decision upholding the standard. It is a real win for one of the state’s most important climate change policies and for a more practical approach to the dormant commerce clause. The decision should encourage the states to fashion innovative climate change policies in the absence of comprehensive federal policy, an explicit goal of the Ninth Circuit in its decision.
Paul Stanton Kibel, Professor, Golden Gate University School of Law
In California water law these days, there is increasingly talk about the reasonable use provisions of the California Constitution (Article X, Section 2) and the California Water Code (Section 275). These provisions provide that all water uses and methods of water diversion in California must be reasonable and cannot be wasteful. Due to disappointment with the effectiveness of such laws as the federal Clean Water Act and the federal Endangered Species Act in ensuring sufficient water is left for fisheries, some fishery advocates have proposed that the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) rely more on California reasonable use law to maintain adequate instream flow. A new decision now supports this view. Continue reading
By Prof. Alan Ramo
The US Supreme Court in an opinion today reversed in part US EPA’s greenhouse gas PSD program for greenhouse gases. While the press and many environmentalists may bemoan the decision, on March 6, 2014, in our blog we predicted the result and argued that in fact, such a decision would be good for environmentalists because US EPA went too far in going beyond its authority and it is important that EPA stick to its statutory authority. As we said, “We are betting in this blog that the Supreme Court will find that the EPA has authority to regulate CO2 within the PSD permitting program, but may restrict EPA’s regulation of CO2 to major stationary sources already regulated under the PSD program.”
We noted that practically this result will still allow the regulation of most of the sources of greenhouse gases, as they are already in the PSD program for other reasons and the court today affirmed their regulation for greenhouse gases. Congratulations to our blogger, Joseph Lounsbury, for his analysis.
By Professor Alan Ramo
I have been reviewing the June 2, 2014, United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. E.P.A.) Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule for existing power plants and assessing some of the early commentary. I wanted to blog particularly on one of the options for the states provided in the rule, and particularly one aspect of that option. As was announced, the states are being given a choice of options to pursue in developing plans for carbon reduction. One of those options is market trading programs. Continue reading
By Joseph Lounsbury, GGU 2014 JD
In November 2013, Jayni Foley Hein, Executive Director for Center for Law, Energy & the Environment, wrote a blog discussing the passage of California’s first law regarding well stimulation, SB 4. In her blog, Hein discussed the limited future the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) may have on well stimulation. She mentions that, “[t]he new law orders the State, by July 15, 2015, to conduct an environmental impact report (EIR) pursuant to CEQA, analyzing the effects of hydraulic fracturing statewide.” However, she states that during the interim period, individual well operators, or the agency given regulatory authority in the law, may not have to comply with CEQA.[i] Continue reading
By Joseph Lounsbury, 3rd year GGU Law
On Monday, February 24, 2014, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments for a group of consolidated cases coined Utility Air Regulatory Group v. The Environmental Protection Agency, which will decide whether the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) current structure for regulating stationary sources of greenhouse gases (GHG) under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting program is an acceptable use of agency deference. Specifically, the Court will rule on whether EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered PSD permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act (CAA) for stationary sources.
The case, beyond its crucial importance for future regulation of GHGs from large stationary sources, presents an unusual conflict between the deference normally afforded an expert administrative agency and explicit language in a statute. It puts environmentalists in a difficult position as to who to root for, as EPA is arguing that it has the right to ignore numbers in a statute because, if followed, these numbers produce absurd results. On the one hand, if EPA wins, greenhouse gases will be further reduced. On the other hand, allowing EPA to ignore specific statutory mandates might rebound against environmentalists in future litigation who challenge EPA’s statutory interpretation. Continue reading
Professors Ramo and Behles have published a new article about the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic’s case about Just Transition and the Mohave Generating Station. Follow the link here. Read about how an alliance of Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Trust and Hopi and Navajo grassroots organizations worked with the Clinic to direct an energy company’s acid rain credits to facilitate investment in renewable energy on tribal controlled land to transition communities from the impacts of the shutdown of the coal-fueled power plant.