The Environment

the space between black and white

The Valley’s Prospects

One of my Ph.D. students just posted an op-ed in Zocalo. The piece was then picked up by the Fresno Bee and the Valley NPR. It is an honest and straightforward assessment of the problems of the much heralded SB 375, which can be summarized in one short phrase: the law didn’t require much.

The law’s concept was good, the law’s actuation was pitiful. One of the biggest mistakes, which I have talked about before, was the use of the per capita VMT reduction metric.  This metric is just plain stupid if what you want is to reduce total VMT (in other words, total GHG emissions). Moreover, it’s beyond pale that the ARB mandated regional reductions in VMT/capita on the order of the 10-16% – well within the uncertainly of the models producing these numbers.

VMT per capita. It’s the perfect non-metric: seems like it’s doing something and everyone and no one will make their targets!

Unjustified power grab or just a clean up?

Delaware online just posted an article about the litigation around the Chesapeake Bay watershed cleanup. The basic storyline is that a multistate agreement was signed in 2009 to clean up the watershed. In 2011, the American Farm Bureau Federation challenged the plan on the grounds it would have an economic impact (fertilizers tend to have effects on watersheds, not using them tends to effect crops).

Now I know nothing about power grabs, but the briefs in opposition to the federal ‘power grab’ have been filed by 39 largely Republican lawmakers, including,

Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and David Vitter of Louisiana, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, signed onto the opposition brief, as well as Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary and Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.

Just the guys I want protecting me from the federal government. There have been a number of recent studies showing that the watershed has gradually improved over time, but there are still dead zones which affect the blue crab. Among the 6 states signing the agreement, West Virginia now opposes it…and they know all about protecting waterways.