by Scott B. Birkey
This issue of Environmental Law News covers a broad spectrum of recent legislative and administrative developments in environmental law. As you’ve probably noticed, some of the recent legal and policy developments covered in this issue, such as the Clean Power Plan and the definition of "waters of the United States," have been picked up by major media outlets. I suppose that’s a sign they’ve captured the public’s attention, at least at some level. Digging quite a bit deeper, our authors have done a superb job of presenting their analyses, perspectives, and concerns as to the inner workings and implications of these recent developments.
First up in this issue is a reprise of the fireside chat with E. Clement (Clem) Shute, Jr. delivered at the October 2015 Yosemite Environmental Law Conference. Mr. Shute received the second annual Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Environmental Law at the Conference, and these remarks were made at an informal question and answer session held during the Conference. Following up on Mr. Shute’s fireside chat is an article on the "unusual circumstances exception" under the California Environmental Quality Act in the wake of the recent California Supreme Court decision in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley. After that we have an article on the Clean Power Plan and how this new overlay of federal regulation poses challenges for California’s climate policy. Next up is an article on how to talk to reporters. This piece may be considered a bit nontraditional for the News, but I think you’ll agree it’s relevant to our practice, particularly given the media’s attention to issues we deal with on a day-to-day basis. The next article gives some thought to what the recent Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or the "FAST Act", may mean for infrastructure project developers. After that is yet another piece concerning a topic that’s garnered its fair share of media attention: the proposed new rule defining the term "waters of the United States." This issue closes with what’s become an annual recap of the most recent California state legislative session. The title for this year’s recap sums it up best – "Settling in and Taking a Breath."