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Category Archives: Energy Policy

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Defeat of the Carbon Tax: As Washington Increasingly Mimics the Partisan Gridlock of the “other Washington,” it Risks Losing Progressive Action in the Name of Progressive Principles

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Fuel Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Tax, Uncategorized

We all know the federal government is hamstrung by partisan gridlock.  Where once lawmakers recognized that passing legislation required that both parties end up being able to claim success, that no one got everything they wanted, and that progress was never perfect, today there seem to be new rules holding forth:  “I will only ‘compromise’… 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

Oregon Department of Lands: State of Wyoming Lacks Standing to Challenge Denial of Port Morrow Permit

Posted in Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Project Permitting

Late last week, the Oregon Department of State Lands denied the State of Wyoming’s request to challenge the Department’s denial of Ambre Energy’s application for a removal-fill permit. (We were following this case at the end of August.) The Department said that Wyoming lacked standing because it had not shown how it would be adversely affected… Continue Reading

What We Are Reading on Friday, August 29th: Elwha River Dam Removal, Science Advice to Governments, Coal Export Developments, and More

Posted in Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Geeky Science Stuff, Ocean Acidification, Project Permitting

Here is a quick roundup of what has caught my eye this week. First, the last 30 feet of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River was removed in a spectacular blast at 4:12 pm on Tuesday. John Gussman, “Return of the River” filmmaker, documented the blast:

Friday Morning Link Roundup: Pebble Mine 404(c) Restrictions; Survey Shows Majority of Washingtonians Support Coal Exports and Oil by Rail; Sierra Club Petitions to Ban DOT-111 Rail Cars; Science Communication in the Media and Risk Assessment Explained

Posted in Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Environmental Risk, Geeky Science Stuff, Public Health Policy

Here is the roundup of what has caught my eye over the past week: EPA’s Pebble Mine 404(c) Restrictions First, EPA released its Proposed Determination under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the Pebble Deposit Area in Southwest Alaska this morning. The executive summary of the proposed determination is here. In brief, EPA… 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

Washington Legislature Wades Into Oil Transport Issues

Posted in Emerging Policy, Energy Policy

For those of you tracking developments in the crude oil transportation world, you may have seen an uptick in activity recently. At the beginning of the year — following the collision of two oil trains in North Dakota on December 30 — the federal government (the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) issued a rare safety alert about… 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

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

Washington’s Hazardous Substances Tax Upheld by the Washington State Supreme Court

Posted in Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Energy Policy

Washington’s Supreme Court issued an opinion today upholding the constitutionality of the hazardous substances tax (“HST”) imposed by the voter-approved Model Toxics Control Act. The HST is imposed by MTCA at a rate of seven tenths of one percent on the first in-state possession of any hazardous substance (including gasoline), calculated on the wholesale value… Continue Reading

Dam Removal Update: Elwha River Restoration Project Hits One-Year Construction Mark

Posted in Endangered/Threatened Species, Energy Policy, Project Permitting, Water Quality

The demolition phase of the removal of two dams on the Elwha River is at the one-year mark, and the progress over the past year–after decades of planning–is stunning. For those of you outside of the Pacific Northwest that haven’t been following this project, it is a big deal. Two dams–built in the early 1900s–are… Continue Reading

Offshore Shellfish Cultivation: KZO Sea Farms Obtains Preliminary Corps Permit for Facility off Long Beach

Posted in Endangered/Threatened Species, Energy Policy, Project Permitting, Shellfish Industry, Sustainability, Water Quality

Last week, KZO Sea Farms obtained a preliminary permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for a 100-acre, offshore, shellfish farm in the Southern California Bight, approximately 9 miles offshore of Long Beach and outside of the 3-mile territorial limit of California’s state waters. The proposed project has the potential to farm two species of… Continue Reading

Hot environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest: Coal exports, Pebble Mine, derelict vessels

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Shellfish Industry, Water Quality

For those of you that are not up on the hot-button issues in Washington and the Pacific Northwest: Coal exports: Craig Welch at the Seattle Times wrote a good summary on coal export plans in Washington. This is shaping up to be the biggest environmental issue in Washington, and presents many interesting legal and policy… Continue Reading

Fukushima and the Future of US Energy Policy

Posted in Climate Change, Energy Policy

Like most of the world, I’ve been watching intently as the events unfold in Japan. As the nuclear crisis develops there, I cannot help but think about the implications for energy policy here in the United States. Most people are familiar with the trajectory of nuclear power in the United States. Hailed as a new,… Continue Reading