Environmental Law

Envt'l Law News Spring 2020, Vol. 29, No. 1


by Jennifer L. Harder

COVID-19 has changed the world significantly since the articles in this issue of Environmental Law News were written. While the crisis laser-focused attention on public health and government response, it also heightened tension over longstanding environmental issues such as sanctity of science, public interest enforcement, and resource equities in marginalized communities. These themes resonate throughout our spring issue of Environmental Law News, a publication committed to the importance of education, with priority on facts and nuanced policy responses, and to development of effective outcomes over sound-bite rhetoric.

In this spirit, to kick off our spring issue, Karrigan Bork tackles the complex doctrinal tapestry of public trust enforcement. Bork argues that judicial decisions in this area are often confused and sometimes mistaken, and urges clarification on this important topic. Next, with a keen eye on facts, Kevin Bursey reviews six key groundwater sustainability plans submitted to the Department of Water Resources in early 2020 pursuant to California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Bursey’s review focuses on six basins suffering from critical overdraft, describing water budgets and proposed management actions. Kaitlin Harr carries the science baton on the hot topic of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), toxic water pollutants associated with food packaging, non-stick cookware, and other ubiquitous consumer products. Harr discusses state and federal measures underway to address PFAS. Next, Timothy O’Connor and Katharine Johnstone take a deep dive into funding needed to shift heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks, ships, and trains to zero emission equipment. Their comprehensive article assesses budget, regulatory, and other measures designed to maximize the role of private investment in this transition. Jessica Rader then takes an equally deep dive into California’s offshore oil boundary, a line that demarcates state from federal authority. Rader nimbly guides readers through the history of the boundary and the legal complexities associated with California’s loss of control over its offshore tidal and submerged lands to the federal government. Following this historical odyssey, Katharine "Katy" Spanos takes us into the future, exploring the intriguing question of how to promote environmental stewardship of agricultural working lands in California. Spanos, a longtime veteran in this policy arena, offers recommendations for ways that attorneys can provide leadership on this important issue. To wrap our spring issue, Gary Lucks provides his always-excellent annual summary of California environmental legislation, describing new laws on hot topics such as climate change, environmental justice, housing, renewable energy, water, and the continuing threat of wildfire.

If you are interested in writing for Environmental Law News, please reach out to me, Jennifer Harder, at jharder@pacific.edu. Environmental Law News is currently accepting article proposals for the Spring 2021 issue. We are eager to do our part to provide insight into environmental issues, and always excited to hear from prospective authors.

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