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Category Archives: Climate Change

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The View From The Pacific Northwest: What to Watch in Environmental Law and Policy Post-Inauguration, Part 2

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Regulatory

Note: this is part 2 of 3 in my series of how the new administration may impact environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest. For background, please see Part 1. Tribal Relations One of the key factors influencing environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest is the presence of and obligations owed to… Continue Reading

The View From The Pacific Northwest: What to Watch in Environmental Law and Policy Post-Inauguration, Part 1

Posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Energy, Cleanup & Superfund, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory

On Friday morning, I boarded a plane in Chicago and by the time I touched down in Seattle, Trump had been sworn into office. We’ve received a number of questions from clients and friends asking us how the regime change will impact environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest. The quick answer is one… Continue Reading

Executive Orders & Carbon Emissions: Can Governor Inslee Establish A Low Carbon Fuel Standard Without Legislation?

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Legislation

The authority of a governmental executive to issue an executive order has recently been a hot topic in the politico-legal world. President Obama’s issuance of Executive Order 13682 sparked a national debate over the Executive’s power to establish and enforce his own laws on controversial issues. The validity of executive orders may very soon become… Continue Reading

What We Are Reading November 13, 2014: U.S./China Carbon Emissions Agreement Edition

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Conservation, Energy Policy, Geeky Science Stuff

There is so much that caught my eye this week that I couldn’t make it to Friday before putting this list up. First, on the energy policy front, I’d be remiss in not highlighting President Obama’s agreement with China with respect to carbon emissions. The internet and social media are awash in analysis and commentary… Continue Reading

Cap and Trade to Reduce Carbon Emissions in Washington Is SO 1990s

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Legislation, Renewable Energy, Tax

Lots of big ideas – think the minimum wage, women’s suffrage, abolition, fair labor standards – take years or decades from when they are first proposed to their final adoption. The fact that it takes a while to bring enough of society around to actually adopt a new idea doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good… Continue Reading

Election Results: Implications for Environmental Policy and Regulation at the National and State Level

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy

The election results from last night have implications for environmental law and policy that we will likely fully understand after watching how the next few years play out. On a national level, Republicans regained control of the Senate, and here in Washington, it looks like Republicans will keep control of our state Senate. Both of… Continue Reading

What We Are Reading, September 26: Climate Change, Fires, and the DJC’s Environmental Outlook

Posted in Climate Change, Geeky Science Stuff, Uncategorized

With this week being the week that world leaders met in New York for the United Nations Climate Summit 2014, our “what we are reading” update naturally focuses on climate issues. First, researchers here in Seattle published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that concludes the ~0.5 to 1 degree… Continue Reading

Washington’s Upcoming Elections and the Environment: Pay Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Shellfish Industry

Governor Jay Inslee enjoyed some national publicity this week, when The New York Times published an article about the governor’s climate change policies in the wake of recent deaths of baby oysters in Washington. Mr. Inslee and others attribute the oyster mortality to rising acidification in the Pacific Ocean, which feeds the Puget Sound, caused… Continue Reading

Cap and Trade versus a Carbon Tax: Where is Bill Gates Sr. When We Need Him?

Posted in Climate Change

Climate change deniers continue to be with us. But the release on June 25 of “Risky Business,” a comprehensive report on the risk to American business and political life from climate change, suggests that the reality and risk of climate change is increasingly clear to intellectual leaders of both parties. The committee that commissioned the… Continue Reading

Friday (the 13th) Morning Link Roundup: EPA Administrator Snubbing Press, Canada’s Attention Shifts to Coal Exports, Fish Consumption and More from the Wild Fish Conservancy

Posted in Clean Energy, Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Fish Consumption

A quick roundup of some of the articles that caught my eye on Twitter in the past week or so: First, U.S. News‘ Washington Whispers page has a report out on EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy seemingly snubbing the press after a private event at the National Press Club yesterday where she gave a presentation on… Continue Reading

EPA’s Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule: Implications for Washington State?

Posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Conservation, Energy Policy

EPA released a draft of its Clean Power Plan Rule yesterday, a topic that dominated my Twitter feed all day and already is sharpening the debate on the use of policy and the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon emissions. Our first reaction to the rule was that it likely will have little impact on carbon… Continue Reading

Governor Inslee Signs Executive Order 14-04, Washington’s Carbon Pollution Reduction and Clean Energy Action Plan

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Conservation, Energy Policy, Fuel Efficiency

On April 29, 2014, Governor Inslee signed Executive Order 14-04, titled “Washington Carbon Reduction and Clean Energy Action.” This order supersedes two orders by Washington’s prior governor (EO 07-02 and EO 09-05) and will serve as the framework for Governor Inslee’s actions on climate change. EO 14-04 is a dense nine pages long, and was informed… Continue Reading

The Courts Exit the Debate Over Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Sustainability

Last week, when the Ninth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing en banc of the decision in Washington Environmental Council v. Bellon, it took what may be the final step to limit the role of courts in the debate over regulation to restrict carbon emissions. Bellon held that environmental plaintiffs do not have standing to sue to compel the Northwest… Continue Reading

Keystone XL Pipeline EIS: Implications for the Pacific Northwest

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, SEPA

My partner Diane Meyers posted recently on the approval of the Keystone XL EIS, and that led me to thinking about the implications of this document with respect to the Pacific Northwest. The Keystone XL EIS may be an important precedent for energy projects in the Pacific Northwest, notably the efforts to export coal from… Continue Reading

Keystone Pipeline (Part 2) Receives U.S. State Department’s “Blessing”

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, Regulatory

The U.S. State Department issued its final environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The study, which raised no major concerns, clears the way for the 875-mile pipeline project to proceed and, as some have noted, gives President Obama some political latitude to endorse it. The route has changed since the State Department’s… Continue Reading

Washington’s 2014 Legislative Session: Early Developments on Fish Consumption, Nuclear Power and More

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Fish Consumption, Uncategorized, Water Quality

We’re just over a week into the 2014 legislative session, and there are already some interesting developments. In no particular order, here is what is catching my eye: First, the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee held a work session on the fish consumption issue last week. The Association of Washington Business just posted an… Continue Reading

More on Ocean Acidification: My Summary of the IGBP, IOC, and SCOR’s Summary for Policymakers and Implications for the Pacific Northwest

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Geeky Science Stuff, Ocean Acidification, Shellfish Industry, Sustainability

The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO), and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) released their paper summarizing the results of its Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World this week. This document summarizes the results of a conference held in Monterey, California in September 2012, is aimed at… Continue Reading

The Ideological Clash of Nuclear Power and Climate Change: One Perspective from the Pacific Northwest

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy

My weekend reading had a couple themes. The first theme was how many of today’s elections in Washington have national implications, from the minimum wage fight in the city of SeaTac, to the GMO labeling initiative, and, of course, the county council election in Whatcom County–-where that council will be tasked with a large amount… Continue Reading

Ocean Acidification and Science Communication: The Seattle Time’s “Sea Change” Series and Cliff Mass’s Critique

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Geeky Science Stuff, Ocean Acidification, Shellfish Industry, Water Quality

If you follow the Seattle Times, or ocean acidification as an emerging issue, you’ve likely seen Craig Welch’s “Sea Change” series published last month, a series that is impressive in terms of scope and depth of coverage of the issue of ocean acidification, with its possible impacts on marine life and our economy. I’ve been… Continue Reading

The Intersection of Science, Facts, and Advocacy in the Age of “Truthiness”

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, SEPA, Truthiness

One of my pet peeves as a scientist and a lawyer is the distortion of scientific data or facts in advocating policy positions or making legal arguments. Stephen Colbert did a piece a while ago on “truthiness”-which he defines as something that “feels” right. Although the references to current events are now dated, this bit… Continue Reading

The Coal Export Fight: Negative Implications for Future Dam Removal?

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, SEPA, Uncategorized

This weekend, Lynda Mapes at the Seattle Times wrote an interesting article on the drop of barge traffic along the Lower Snake River, and how a shift from barge to rail as the means of shipping wheat from Idaho to foreign markets may take away one of the primary obstacles to the removal of four… Continue Reading

Coal Fight Update: Washington State’s Unprecedented Expansion of the Scope of Environmental Review

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, SEPA, Sustainability, Uncategorized

The plot thickens in the coal terminal fight. In my last update on this issue, I covered the Corps’ decision to not consider issues such as rail traffic, coal mining, and shipping outside of U.S. territory, in the Corps’ review of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal under the National Environmental Policy Act, because the Corps… Continue Reading

Coal Export Fight Update: Lawsuit Filed, EIS Scope Decided, Politicians Travel to D.C.

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, Public Health Policy, Uncategorized

Lots going on with the coal export fight — here is a quick update: Citizen Suit Update: On June 4th–the earliest possible date–the Sierra Club filed suit seeking to enforce the alleged violations of the Clean Water Act detailed in its notice letter sent to BNSF and others back in April. The case is before… Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Serve 60 Day Notice on BNSF, Coal Companies, Alleging Ongoing Violations of the Clean Water Act

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Uncategorized, Water Quality

Yesterday, a group of environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper, Columbia Riverkeeper and others, sent a 60-day notice letter to Burlington Northern, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Ambre Energy, Cloud Peak Energy, Global Mining Holding Co., FirstEnergy Corporation, and TransAlta USA,  alleging violations of the Clean Water Act related to alleged discharges of coal… Continue Reading