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Currents

Ecology Law Currents is the online-only publication of Ecology Law Quarterly, one of the nation’s most respected and widely read environmental law journals. Currents features short-form commentary and analysis on timely environmental law and policy issues.

Smart Grids Need Smart Privacy Laws: Reconciling the California Consumer Privacy Act with Decentralized Electricity Models

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) grants strong privacy rights, including allowing a consumer to opt out of the sale of her information to third parties, and to request that a business delete her information from its records. At the same time, the electricity industry is transitioning towards a decentralized distribution scheme, where electricity providers use consumer information and blockchain technology to improve energy efficiency. The CCPA is problematic to this shift in electricity distribution in two ways.

Aug 18, 2020
Hannah M. Hess, J.D.

Colluding to Save the World: How Antitrust Laws Discourage Corporations from Taking Action on Climate Change

“The loftiest of purported motivations do not excuse anti-competitive collusion among rivals. That’s long-standing antitrust law.” So begins a USA Today opinion piece by Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General and head of the Antitrust Division. Delrahim was defending a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into four major automakers who had recently announced they would continue to meet California’s fuel efficiency standards even as the Trump Administration moved to roll back higher efficiency standards at the federal level. The agreement between the automakers will likely lead to higher prices for consumers, which—regardless of other positive benefits—could be illegal under antitrust law. But should it be?

Jul 27, 2020
Paul Balmer

Salmon Lessons For The Delta Smelt: Unjustified Reliance On Hatcheries In The USFWS October 2019 Biological Opinion

Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, in October 2019 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the Trump Administration issued a new Biological Opinion (BiOp) for coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project (2019 USFWS BiOp). The 2019 USFWS BiOp issued by the Trump Administration found that anticipated water project operations would not jeopardize the survival of the endangered delta smelt, a fish species dependent on low-salinity conditions and found only in the brackish estuary where the freshwater of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers mix with the seawater of the San Francisco Bay. The “no jeopardy” determination in the 2019 USFWS BiOp contrasted with the previous 2008 USFWS BiOp, which found that anticipated water project operations would likely push the endangered delta smelt into extinction due to elevated salinity levels.

Jun 26, 2020
Paul Stanton Kibel