Posted on Categories Air, Climate Change & Energy, Habitats, Water, WildlifeTags , , , ,

California environmental leaders, lawmakers gird for fight against President Trump 

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Restoring salmon in the Russian River and protecting the North Coast from oil rigs — two long-standing campaigns with broad public support — are among the goals likely to be challenged if not stifled by the sharp right turn of Donald Trump’s administration, environmental advocates and Democratic lawmakers said.
More broadly, the environmental camp fears that landmark legislation, including laws that protect endangered species, clean air and water, are imperiled by Republican control of the House and Senate with an avid deregulation partner in the White House.
The harbingers, they say, include Trump’s trail of tweets and speeches asserting that climate change is a hoax and his post-election appointments of a California water district lobbyist and a prominent climate change denier to head his transition teams at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department, respectively.
Even if Republicans and their allies can’t roll back environmental laws they have long targeted — asserting they harm economic development — the GOP will have nearly unlimited control of national policy and can weaken environmental programs by turning off the cash spigot.
The Sonoma County Water Agency, for example, has received more than $15 million in federal grants in the last four years for a host of water-quality and Russian River watershed projects, including salmon habitat restoration on Dry Creek near Healdsburg, as well as operation of the fish hatchery at nearby Warm Springs Dam on Lake Sonoma.
Under President Trump, such programs may not favor as well in budget allocations, local lawmakers and others fear.
Read more at: California environmental leaders, lawmakers gird for fight against President Trump | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Land UseTags , , , , ,

What does a Trump presidency portend for California’s environmental policies?

Richard Frank, LEGAL PLANET
Sensing political storm clouds ahead, California Governor Jerry Brown yesterday issued a statement on the presidential election results that concludes: “We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our time–devastating climate change.”
Several of my Legal Planet colleagues have recently posted thoughtful commentary on what Donald Trump’s election as the nation’s 45th president signifies for national environmental law and policy.  By contrast, I’d like to focus on the potential for significant political dissonance between the incoming Trump Administration and the State of California.
In my view, that potential is sky-high, given California’s longstanding commitment to environmental and energy policies that are anathema to those articulated by Trump in the just-concluded presidential campaign and currently being reiterated by senior members of his transition team.
Business leaders, property rights advocates and Tea Party activists are all seeking the Trump Administration’s active support for their efforts to re-energize the oil, gas and coal industries, aggressively promote private development of federal lands, dismantle or curb USEPA’s regulatory programs and suspend the Obama Administration’s aggressive pursuit of greenhouse gas reduction goals.  California Governor Brown’s above-quoted statement confirms that the Golden State will continue to pursue its environmental, conservation and climate change objectives notwithstanding the dramatic environmental policy shift we can expect under Trump’s presidency.
Past political history demonstrates that such a clash between California and the federal government is likely.  When Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, with both houses of Congress in Republican hands, similar political turbulence quickly developed between the Reagan Administration and Reagan’s home state of California on a number of environmental issues.
At its heart, this was, and is, a battle of federalism principles: the proper, respective roles of the federal and state governments in charting public policy, together with the legal authority of both to act.
As we gird for likely legal and political battles between California and the federal government over environmental policy, three constitutional doctrines are likely to play a key role:

  • preemption,
  • regulatory takings
  • and the dormant Commerce Clause.

I briefly review each of those doctrines and their relevance below.
Read more at: What Does a Trump Presidency Portend for California’s Environmental Policies? | Legal Planet

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable LivingTags , ,

Defending the environment in dark times: Where do we go from here?

Dan Farber, LEGAL PLANET
Yesterday’s election didn’t turn out the way many of us hoped. The results may put in danger much of the progress made over the past eight years in addressing environmental issues and even risk some earlier accomplishments. What’s done is done, however, and we need to think about how to move forward.
The Bush years provide a blueprint that still largely applies. Environmentalists were able to use a three-part strategy to deal with the anti-environmental pressures in D.C., and those tools remain available.
The first approach under Bush was to use whatever political leverage was available at the national level to block anti-environmental moves. This included using the Senate where possible to block legislative initiatives, and lobbying heavily on individual issues. This remains a definite possibility, considering the narrow margin in the Senate and that chamber’s bevy of tools that can be used by the minority.
The second approach under Bush was to use the courts. The Supreme Court is likely to return to its prior alignment as soon as Trump fills his first vacancy, with Justice Kennedy as the swing voter. He is certainly not a reliable environmental vote but is winnable on some issues. The lower courts have a heavy contingent of Obama appointees and should be more sympathetic overall, especially for the first few years before Trump has a chance to make a lot of appointments. National environmental organizations will play a critical role here, as will sympathetic state governments.
The final approach under Bush was to press forward as much as possible at the state level. California passed AB 32; the Northeastern states moved forward with RGGI; and many other states worked hard on issues like renewable energy. Because Republican control of state governments has increased in the meantime, this strategy will now need to focus more on the regions where Democrats remains strong, such as the West Coast and the Northeast.
While these strategies remain valid, we also need to take advantage of ways in which the situation has shifted since 2008. One such change relates to the fissures within the Republican Party. Trump’s victory was as much a blow to conservatives like Paul Ryan as it was to Democrats, and Republicans lost ground among some demographics. These fissures may create the opportunity for new alliances on issues like renewable energy.
Another important change is the increased economic strength of the green economy, which may translate into political leverage even in some GOP areas.
There’s no doubt that this is going to be a very tough four years. The task is to survive with as much of Obama’s environmental legacy intact as possible and to make progress on whatever fronts are open.
Source: Defending the Environment in Dark Times | Legal Planet

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable LivingTags , , , ,

Climate fight targeting cows may reshape California dairies

Kurtis Alexander, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Dairy farmer Bob Giacomini, 79, is ahead of his time, even if he didn’t mean to be.
Eight years ago, the North Bay native bought a custom motor, generator and pipeline to make electricity from an unusual source — cow manure — at his ranch along Tomales Bay. The hope was that the renewable energy would save him a few bucks and perhaps bolster the environmental bona fides of his family’s famed cheese, Point Reyes Original Blue.
As it turned out, the power system served another purpose. It helped do away with the potent greenhouse gas that’s at the heart of a new, first-of-its-kind climate law targeting agriculture.
Legislation signed this month by Gov. Jerry Brown requires California’s dairy industry to answer for its contribution to global warming by making a 40 percent cut in methane emissions in coming years. The gas, which heats the atmosphere 20 times faster than carbon dioxide, comes from the butts and burps of bovines.
One U.N. report blames livestock, which has largely escaped climate regulation, for 14.5 percent of the planet’s heat-trapping gases, as much as planes, trains and automobiles combined.
Read more at: Climate fight targeting cows may reshape California dairies