Waterkeeper v. EPA represents a limited victory for advocates of reporting requirements. In this case, the court held that the Environmental Protection Agency could not exempt farms from air pollution reporting requirements based on the use of the de minimis doctrine, which allows for exemptions from regulations to avoid trifling matters. Prior to this case, in most environmental cases involving the de minimis doctrine, courts have upheld agency use of the doctrine unless a court finds that the statutory language is “extraordinarily rigid” and therefore does not permit this interpretative tool.
In The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet, Destroying our Politics, and Driving us Crazy, climate scientist Michael Mann joins with Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Tom Toles to take on climate change denialism. Mann, the Director of the Earth System Science Center at The Pennsylvania State University, augments his prose with cartoons from Toles, who normally draws for the editorial section of the Washington Post. Together, Mann and Toles set out to debunk the main arguments that special interest groups use to undermine climate change policy.
Martin’s Beach, a privately owned, rugged, photogenic strip of sand south of Half Moon Bay on California’s Pacific coast, has become a flashpoint for a changing state. When billionaire Vinod Khosla—new owner of the beach and abutting property—closed Martin’s Beach to the public in 2009, environmentalists, surfers, and local government joined forces to restore public access. Shrinking coastline due to sea-level rise, a growing and diversifying statewide population, and widening wealth disparities cast the fight for public access to Martin’s Beach in an almost existential light: Who really enjoys the right to go to the beach, and for how much longer?
California voters and courts consistently support efforts to protect both the environment and taxpayers. These actions often spur changes in policy throughout the nation. For example, California passed comprehensive water quality legislation prior to enactment of the federal Clean Water Act. California also pioneered air quality standards before the federal government enacted its own less stringent standards.