State Impact Center Blog

Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter for expert commentary from Center staff on notable developments on clean energy, climate and environmental matters.


 

 

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October 7, 2021 — Energy Efficiency in States and Beyond
The first Wednesday in October, we celebrate Energy Efficiency Day to lift up a time-honored, though sometimes overlooked, energy resource. In all of its shapes and sizes, energy efficiency is a dependable and cost-effective way to reduce electricity and gas demand...


September 23, 2021 — Climate Progress at Climate Week
Happy Climate Week! Hosted annually with the UN and the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP), Climate Week provides the chance for businesses, governments, and non-governmental organizations to come together to assess progress on climate action...


September 9, 2021 — The Climate Moment 
August is usually a slow month on Capitol Hill, but that was not the case this summer. Both houses gave up parts of their recess to set up a potentially historic moment for climate action later this fall...


August 12, 2021 — Going With the Flow Doesn't Cut It Anymore
The “Kafkaesque regime” that was natural gas pipeline approvals at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is facing more pushback...


July 15, 2021 — When a Window Unit Isn't Cool Enough
Rising annual average temperatures mean that regions where people did not historically have air conditioners, like the Pacific Northwest, are reevaluating their home cooling options...


July 1, 2021 — A Supreme Court Roundup on States and Environmental Law
The Supreme Court wrapped up the 2020-2021 term this week, the first one with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett. It is a good time for a roundup of decisions involving states and the crucial issues that affect the nation’s grid and infrastructure as it grapples with a changing climate...


June 17, 2021 — Getting to a Cleaner Grid
The wonky world of electricity markets has a real impact on a state and region's energy mix and how quickly decarbonization can occur (plus at what cost). Many states are on a path to promote clean energy...


June 3, 2021 — AGs and Environmental Justice
Last week, the AGs of New York, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey submitted a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, urging the agency to conduct a rigorous reevaluation of the permits for the Formosa Plastics petrochemical complex in St. James Parish...


May 20, 2021 — A Whirlwind of Activity at Interior
The recent announcement that Vineyard Wind, a new offshore wind facility, received the permits needed to begin construction makes clear that the Department of the Interior is an agency to watch. The Department of the Interior has expansive responsibilities...


May 6, 2021 — Shifting Gears, Driving Progress
In the 1950s, a researcher in California discovered that several of the pollutants in vehicle emissions combined to form smog. Because of the awful impact of that smog on California skies...


April 22, 2021 — Follow the Leaders
Happy Earth Day! Today, the Biden administration announced the United States’ new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement: a 50-52 percent reduction in greenhouse...


April 8, 2021 — Bold Ambitions, Strong Foundations
Infrastructure week has finally arrived. At an event in Pittsburgh, President Biden introduced the American Jobs Plan, a $2 trillion effort to simultaneously invest in the country’s infrastructure...


March 25, 2021 — Presidential Precedent and the Cost of Carbon
Bucking its reputation as “the most important number you’ve never heard of,” the social cost of greenhouse gases has generated quite a buzz in recent weeks. The Biden administration’s actions...


March 11, 2021 — The Climate in Congress
Congress has been busy at work on a COVID-19 relief package, which President Biden signed into law this afternoon. But in the midst of working on that pressing concern, Congress has....


March 9, 2021 — Electrifying Your FERC Work
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent (and fairly obscure) federal agency. And while the agency has not been on the forefront of climate change-related work...


February 25, 2021 — The Power Grid in Focus
The crisis in Texas has brought new urgency and attention to the need to ensure power grid reliability in the face of climate change impacts. In the wake of last week’s events...


February 11, 2021 — Wheels of Change
The Biden administration has set a new tone for the federal government. Through a series of executive orders and memoranda, President Biden established a new...


January 28, 2021 — Perseverance and New Beginnings
President Trump’s assault on our nation’s climate, clean energy and environmental laws and values is coming to an end. Time will tell how much permanent damage has been done...


January 7, 2021 — Full Court Press
President Trump’s assault on our nation’s climate, clean energy and environmental laws and values is coming to an end. Time will tell how much permanent damage has been done...


December 17, 2020 — Cl**n En*rgy: A Dirty Word, Apparently
Here, at the end, the Trump administration has shed the pretense of pursuing an even-handed energy policy. The administration has been quietly sabotaging clean energy initiatives...


December 3, 2020 — A Timely Teach-In
Next Wednesday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is holding a virtual “teach-in” that will address how regulated power markets are slowing, and making more expensive, the state’s...


November 12, 2020 — Introducing the Midnight Watch Project
A presidential transition is always a scramble. With fewer than 80 days separating the election from a new president’s inauguration, there is precious little time to prepare a new team to begin...


November 6, 2020 — Musical Chairs at FERC
Late on November 5, President Trump named James Danly as Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal agency responsible for crucial energy issues...


November 3, 2020 — Another Swing for Demand Response at FERC
Starting over a decade ago, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has taken a series of actions to increase the ability of distribution-connected resources to participate in wholesale...


October 29, 2020 — Health and Environmental Horrors
In this Halloween edition of “Legally Spooking,” it seems appropriate to address those big, scary health and environmental disasters that strike once or twice in a generation. You know what...


October 15, 2020 — Compliance? Optional
Every day seems to bring more news of the Trump administration’s failure to enforce environmental laws. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that during the first two...


October 1, 2020 — A Weak Hand: ACE Rule's Day in Court
Next week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments on challenges to the repeal of one of President Obama’s signature climate regulations — the Clean Power Plan...


September 25, 2020 — FERC’s Distributed Energy Resource Rule Explained
On September 17, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Order No. 2222 to allow aggregators of distributed energy resources (DERs) to participate in the...


August 20, 2020 — When Our Forests Are Gone
In our imperfect union, states do not stand alone as islands disconnected from one another. What happens to the environment in one state can have profound impacts elsewhere...


August 6, 2020 — It's Not NEPA, It's You
In a cloud of obfuscation, the Trump administration recently finalized a destructive overhaul of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations that would exempt many projects from...


August 6, 2020 — State AGs' Advocacy for a Cleaner, Fairer, Healthier Energy System
State attorneys general have been hard at work to advance and defend their states’ clean energy and climate goals and protect their most vulnerable constituents from the adverse health effects tied... 


July 23, 2020 — 'Tired of Winning' Yet?
Last week, the Trump administration suffered two more major losses on important energy and climate issues. In one, the court identified a now-familiar litany of legal errors...


July 9, 2020 — Pipeline Platitudes
With the Atlantic Coast Pipeline cancelled, and courts holding up the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines for environmental transgressions, the blowback messaging was...


June 19, 2020 — Juneteenth & the Pursuit of Environmental Justice
In an ironic twist, President Trump recently brought attention to the importance of today in our nation’s history. June 19 — or Juneteenth — marks the day in 1865 when...


June 11, 2020 — Toxics, Under the Radar
The U.S. system of environmental laws stands on the broad shoulders of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. When it comes to protecting...


May 28, 2020 — COVID & Cars: The Benefits of Rules
A functioning society needs rules. We know this. We demand that our foods are safe, medicines unadulterated, tap water uncontaminated, and air, clean. Responsible businesses welcome...


https://www.law.nyu.edu/centers/state-impact/press-publications/expert-commentary/unequal-effects

May 14, 2020 — Unequal Effects
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey released a remarkable document this week: COVID-19’s Unequal Effects in Massachusetts: Remedying the Legacy of Environmental...


April 30, 2020 — Why Are Federal Energy Regulators Disrespecting States’ Rights?
The Trump administration knows better than to disrespect states’ energy rights. In a recent Federal Register entry, the administration confirmed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission...


April 16, 2020 — Leadership in a Crisis
With the 10th year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill disaster coming up in a few days, many are writing about lessons learned from that tragedy. Have deepwater drilling safety concerns...


April 2020 — Earth Day at 50: Our System of Protections Is Failing Us
Earth Day 1970 energized America to construct the system of environmental protection that is in place today. Fifty years later is a propitious time to issue a report card on...


March 31, 2020 — Flatten the (Climate) Curve
COVID-19 is teaching us an important lesson about “flattening the curve.” We now know that by taking early action like social distancing, we have a fighting chance to avoid a catastrophic...


March 19, 2020 — Our Health
We usually take our health for granted. No more. The COVID-19 pandemic presents an acute health risk that is upending our country, and our world. The COVID-19 crisis provides us with...


March 5, 2020 — Energy & Culture Wars
The administration is fomenting another culture war. The president has ridiculed the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs, claiming that their replacements give off bad light. Dishwashers’...


February 20, 2020 — Reducing Corporate Environmental Accountability, Whether Industry Wants it or Not
Everyone is aware that the Trump administration has been rolling back scores of environmental and climate regulatory requirements. What’s less apparent is how the rollbacks fit into a broader...


February 6, 2020 — Ideology Trumps Science in Clean Water Rollback
The administration has issued a new rule that ends Clean Water Act protection for large portions of our nation’s wetlands, lakes and tributaries. Internal government documents estimate that...


January 23, 2020 — The Trump Administration's Deregulation Agenda is Putting Americans at Risk
In the corporate world, “EHS” — “environment, health & safety” — is a serious concern. Any company worth its salt pays attention to EHS issues because workers, customers and...


January 9, 2020 — Cutting the Heart out of NEPA
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that federal officials have a full understanding of the environmental ramifications of proposed projects, and alternatives, before...


December 19, 2019 — The Climate Travesty Unfolding Before Our Eyes
We know what we need to do to tackle climate change. It’s straightforward. We need to reduce the harmful carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are causing...


December 5, 2019 — PJM Capacity Market Changes Likely to Harm Consumers, States, Environment
Back in the spring of 2018, PJM, the entity responsible for running wholesale electricity markets for thirteen states plus the District of Columbia under the oversight of the Federal Energy Regulatory...


December 5, 2019 — Coal in your Stockings
The holidays are arriving soon. Look for some proverbial lumps of coal in your stockings from the Trump administration. First, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) will soon...


November 14, 2019 — EPA Is Messing With Science, Again
Earlier this week, the New York Times obtained a leaked copy of a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking that the Environmental Protection Agency reportedly has submitted...


October 31, 2019 — A Halloween Message: Stop the Scary Safety Rollbacks
Many (including us) have documented the administration’s serious assaults on the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and other core environmental protections. But we must not forget...


October 17, 2019 — Like It or Not, the Power Sector is Decarbonizing
After the Supreme Court confirmed in Massachusetts v. EPA that the EPA can (and, following finalization of its Endangerment Finding, must) regulate the greenhouse gas emissions that...


October 3, 2019 — Clean Energy Issues Are on the Docket for State Attorneys General
Last Friday in Boston, in connection with hosting a National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Eastern Region meeting, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced...


September 19, 2019 — The Trump Administration's Car Wreck
The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and many other bedrock environmental statutes confer substantial authority on both the federal government and the states to reduce harmful pollution...


September 5, 2019 — Methane, Motherhood and Apple Pie
The EPA hoped no one would notice. It waited until the final days in August, when no one is in town, to quietly announce its intent to lift oil and gas industry requirements to control...


August 22, 2019 — State Attorneys General Stand Up for Conservation
State attorneys general have been vigorously guarding their states’ conservation interests, including federal intrusions that impact traditional state purview over wildlife and the integrity of...


August 8, 2019 — DOE’s Latest Attempt to Neuter Its Statutory Energy Efficiency Responsibilities
Since Congress enacted the Energy Policy and Conservation Act in 1975, the Department of Energy (DOE) has implemented a successful program that requires manufacturers to produce...


July 25, 2019 — State AGs Making the Case for Climate Optimism
This past weekend, much of the United States endured an unprecedented heat wave. Cities across the country broke heat records, and over 150 million people were under some level of...


July 25, 2019 — The ACE Rule: Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
Earlier this month, President Trump gave a speech intended to celebrate his environmental leadership. “From day one, my administration has made it a top priority to ensure that America...


July 16, 2019 — Colorado’s New Legislative Boost to Clean Energy
Colorado is one of a growing number of states that are implementing increasingly aggressive strategies to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These state efforts are more...


June 19, 2019 — Communities of Color Continue to Bear Disproportionate Pollution Burden
Juneteenth is the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States. Juneteenth doesn’t mark the signing of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which...


June 6, 2019 — Buckle Your Seat Belts For A Battle Royale Around Cars & Coal
An important reckoning is near. Two of the Trump administration’s most significant anti-environment initiatives are on deck. In the coming weeks...


May 23, 2019 — The U.S. Is Taking on the Climate Crisis – No Thanks to the Trump Administration
The architecture for solving major challenges in the United States typically stands on four pillars: the federal government; state governments; the private business sector; and public support...


May 14, 2019 — How the Conflict Between States and the Federal Govt. is Hurting Clean Energy
Our nation’s environmental and energy laws have always acknowledged states’ special responsibility to look after the health and welfare of their citizens. Congress structured...


April 26, 2019 — What a Recent Court Decision Means for Future Environmental Deregulation
As chronicled in previous editions of Legally Speaking, the Trump administration has an abysmal track record in defending its deregulatory actions in the courts. The administration’s poor...

April 1, 2019 — FERC Inaction Translates to Inequity in ISO-New England
States exercise authority over electric generation resources, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversees wholesale electricity markets. But this is not the end of the story...


March 28, 2019 — Learning from the Past to Help Resolve Future Health & Environmental Challenges
Major health and environmental controversies burst on the national scene with some regularity, often raising challenging legal and policy issues around liability, restoration and restitution...


March 14, 2019 — The Rollback of Six Critical Environmental Regulations
It is challenging to keep track of the Trump administration’s many rollbacks of environmental and health protections. Dozens of rollbacks are in process, and new ones are surfacing all the time...


February 21, 2019 — Everyone is a Fan of Saving Energy… Except the Trump Administration
Since 1975, Congress has directed the Energy Department (DOE) to develop national energy efficiency standards that are technically feasible and cost-effective for consumers and...


February 19, 2019 — The Legal Battle Over Zero Emission Credits
Although energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide rose for the first time in several years in 2018, proponents of clean energy can be excited about long-term clean energy trends, particularly...


February 7, 2019 — PFAS: An Opportunity for EPA Leadership
Dangerous chemicals in drinking water seems so yesterday. After all, the Superfund law — signed by President Carter in 1980 — triggered a nation-wide cleanup...


January 24, 2019 — State Attorneys General Are Clearing the Way for Clean Energy
Clean energy is on a roll, and it’s not by accident. States are leading the clean energy revolution that is now underway in our country. And state attorneys general are...


January 13, 2019 — The Energy & Environmental Stakes in 2019 Couldn’t be Higher
Over the past two years, rather than advocating specific (de)regulatory actions, the EPA, Interior Department and Justice Department have focused primarily on...


December 16, 2018 — Climate Change and the Law
The Trump administration is trying hard to ignore the reality of climate change and avoid accepting responsibility to address the risks that it poses to public health and the environment...


December 3, 2018 — Three Takeaways from the Fourth National Climate Assessment
The federal government’s release of the Fourth National Climate Assessment was big energy and environmental news, despite despite being released on the Friday afternoon...


November 9, 2018 — State AGs Must Win the Fight On Cars and Coal
After trying for two years to avoid its legal obligation to implement existing environmental rules, the administration finally is pivoting and putting out proposed replacement rules for...


October 25, 2018 — EPA's Rollback Timeline: A Review of the Fall 2018 Unified Agenda
Last week, the Trump administration released its Fall 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. The regulatory agenda, released each spring and fall, primarily lays out...


October 2, 2018 — EPA's PFAS Gap Compels States to Act
Ninety-eight percent of people in the U.S. have some level of highly fluorinated chemicals in their blood. These chemicals, called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are a group of...


July 9, 2018 — Attorneys General Are Fighting EPA's Pesticide Protection Rollbacks
"Pesticides are meant to be poisonous," said Attorney General Barbara Underwood last month. In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency agreed with this statement and moved to...


June 12, 2018 — EPA Rollbacks Risk More Climate Change-Fueled Disasters Like Arkema
Only days after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed to roll back regulations focused on chemical plant accident prevention....