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You have the right to generate your own electricity

Steven Weissman, associate director, Center for Law, Energy and the Environment | December 4, 2015

Do people have the right to generate electricity for their own use and still remain connected to the grid? Of course they do. You see it every day. Without prior registration or a background check, anyone can go into a hardware store and buy a diesel generator. Homeowners and businesses can install rooftop solar photovoltaics … Continue reading »

Justice Thomas declares war on rulemaking

Dan Farber, professor of law | March 23, 2015

It didn’t get much attention, but Justice Thomas’s dissent two weeks ago in the Amtrak case was extraordinarily radical, even for him. The case involved a relatively obscure issue about the legal status of Amtrak. Justice Thomas used the occasion for a frontal attack on administrative law, including most of environmental law. The heart of … Continue reading »

To erode confidence in public-utility decisions, meet behind closed doors

Steven Weissman, associate director, Center for Law, Energy and the Environment | January 21, 2015

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has an unusual way of doing business. Most state and federal regulatory agencies prohibit private, closed-door discussions with interested parties about contested matters (ex parte communications). Even though it makes decisions affecting the welfare of Californians and the disposition of billions of dollars, the CPUC does not discourage ex … Continue reading »

California’s infill backlash

Ethan Elkind, associate director, Climate Change and Business Program | August 4, 2014

For environmental and economic reasons, we want jobs and people to move back to our cities. People living in cities pollute less because they don’t drive as much and tend to live in smaller homes. Economically, they can save a lot of money on transportation and energy costs, while thriving neighborhoods can create cultural and … Continue reading »

Offshore fracking battles brewing in the Golden State

Jayni Foley Hein, former director, Center for Law, Energy & the Environment | February 6, 2014

As prior blog posts and reports have detailed, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has been occurring onshore in California for decades, yet without full disclosure to the public or state regulatory agencies.  Recently, new reports of offshore fracking in both California and federal waters have surfaced, showing that fracking has also been underway off the coast for many years, including in … Continue reading »

Is it unconstitutional for the President to implement major new policies by regulation?

Dan Farber, professor of law | February 3, 2014

The short answer is a resounding No. Some domestic initiatives obviously do require Congressional approval because they are clearly outside the authority conferred by existing law.  But Congress has given the executive branch broad discretion to regulate in many areas, and the executive branch can use that authority for major policy initiatives.  The only real restriction … Continue reading »

Playing chicken with food safety

Dan Farber, professor of law | October 22, 2013

Food safety is something of a step-child of U.S. regulation.  The public obviously cares about it, but it lacks the kind of attention from advocacy groups that the environment gets.  The results have not been pretty. Food safety is divided between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (for … Continue reading »

The strange world of the Small Business Administration

Dan Farber, professor of law | July 15, 2013

When you say “small business,” most people probably imagine a mom-and-pop corner grocery.  Actually, the federal Small Business Administration’s concept of small goes well beyond that.  For instance, it includes a computer business that does up to $25 million per year in business. A convenience store can do $27 million and still be considered “small,” … Continue reading »

No (or at least little) net loss of jobs from regulation

Holly Doremus, professor of law | November 15, 2011

We keep hearing the phrase “job-killing regulations” from the Republican side of the aisle, with environmental regulations generally at the top of their lists. Yet there has never been much evidence for the claim that government regulation is systematically bad for employment or the economy. To the contrary, scholars, this blog, think tanks (notably the … Continue reading »

Accounting for the harm of coal

Dan Farber, professor of law | September 30, 2011

Much of the effort to rollback current EPA regulations focuses on coal-fired electrical power plants.  An article in the August issues of the American Economic Review sheds light on the issues at stake.  “Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy” is an effort to assess the damages caused by various polluting activities. The … Continue reading »