Occasionally during his presidency, Donald Trump has suggested that he cares deeply about clean air and water, even as he expresses deep skepticism about climate change. But the specifics of Trump’s deregulatory approach tell a different story. The Trump administration has undertaken a series of regulatory moves to weaken the analytical foundation for clean air and water regulations. These moves seek to eliminate or undercut precisely those regulations that bring the biggest health benefits. The clean air regulations under the Clean Air Act, which account for the overwhelming majority of all quantified and monetized benefits of all federal regulation, are under significant threat.
As evidenced by the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, corporations cheat on environmental regulations. Such scandals have created a surge in the academic literature in a wide range of areas, including corporate law, administrative law, and deterrence theory. This Article furthers that literature by focusing on one particular area of corporate cheating—the ability to learn of the cheating in the first place. Detecting corporate cheating requires significant information about corporate behavior, activity, and output. Indeed, most agencies have broad statutory authority to collect such information from corporations, through targeted records requests and inspection.
We are honored to introduce Ecology Law Quarterly’s 2019–20 Annual Review of Environmental and Natural Resource Law. Now in its twenty-first year, the Annual Review is a collaborative endeavor by students and faculty. But the greatest contribution to the Annual Review is made by the editorial board and members of Ecology Law Quarterly (ELQ). ELQ continues to be the leading journal in the field because of their passion and commitment. Three students deserve special recognition: Kaela Shiigi, Emily Miller, and Katie Sinclair devoted a substantial portion of their final year of law school to assisting and advising the student authors. This Annual Review is infused with their talent and insights.
The Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act was passed in 1978 to protect the U.S. electricity supply under the shadow of fuel insecurity and a looming energy crisis. In 2020, the need to mitigate climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions, along with the need to adapt to new extreme weather and climatic realities, pose the greatest challenges and threats to the U.S. electricity grid. The Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act has been only moderately successful in supporting the development of small renewable generators; however, a different implementation framework could make the Act a strong, effective tool for supporting the transition to the renewable and resilient electricity we need. In this Note, I argue that small, distributed storage and renewable generation are a cost-effective and efficient way to both transition to clean generation and make the grid more resilient against climate-based threats. I then explain why the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act has not been widely successful as currently implemented and why the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s October 2019 proposal for revising its regulations under the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act misses the mark. Finally, I propose two different regulatory frameworks for making the Act work in today’s climate change reality.