Center for Law, Energy & the Environment


The Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) channels the expertise of the Berkeley Law community – faculty, staff, and students – into pragmatic, creative policy solutions to critical environmental and energy challenges.


New Reports

Addressing Institutional Vulnerabilities in California’s Drought Water Allocation

California droughts are likely to become more frequent, longer, and more intense in the future, posing increasing challenges for water management, and raising the stakes for effective drought response.  Past droughts have stress tested California’s water management institutions, revealing vulnerabilities that could impair effective adaptation to climate change. The State Water Resources Control Board (Board) is a key water decision maker whose actions affect how scarce water resources are allocated among different human and environmental uses during droughts.

In a pair of reports published as part of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, we examine how the Board has carried out its water rights responsibilities during the last four major statewide droughts (in 1976–77, 1987–1992, 2007–2009, and 2012–2016) and offer recommendations for proactive steps the agency can take to improve its future drought response.


Upcoming Events

 


In the News

 


September 2018

Trial by Fire: Managing Climate Risks Facing Insurers in the Golden State

Climate change presents unprecedented risks to the insurance industry, from increased wildfires and storm events to potential litigation and economic transitions. The industry faces these dynamic challenges at the same time that insurance products are becoming more necessary but less available and affordable.

Our new report, Trial by Fire, documents the nature and extent of the risks faced by insurers and residents in California and offers a range of recommendations to protect the industry and the entire state in a changing climate.

 


August 2018

Addressing Institutional Vulnerabilities in California’s Drought Water Allocation

California droughts are likely to become more frequent, longer, and more intense in the future, posing increasing challenges for water management, and raising the stakes for effective drought response.  Past droughts have stress tested California’s water management institutions, revealing vulnerabilities that could impair effective adaptation to climate change. The State Water Resources Control Board (Board) is a key water decision maker whose actions affect how scarce water resources are allocated among different human and environmental uses during droughts. 

In a pair of reports published as part of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, we examine how the Board has carried out its water rights responsibilities during past droughts and offer recommendations for improving the agency’s future drought response.


August 2018

When is Groundwater Recharge a Beneficial Use of Surface Water in California?

Any diversion and use of surface water in California requires a water right. Currently, there is uncertainty about whether—and, if so, under what circumstances—the State Water Resources Control Board will consider groundwater recharge to be a beneficial use of water. California law makes clear that the act of recharging groundwater, alone, is not a beneficial use of water. Instead, the specific purpose of the recharge is key.

Our UC Water Issue Brief assesses the current status of groundwater recharge in relation to the beneficial use doctrine and provides recommendations for clarifying current policy in order to encourage groundwater recharge projects.


August 2018

Policy Solutions to Boost Zero-Emission Freight at Southern California’s Ports

Transitioning freight transportation to zero-emission technologies would yield substantial environmental, equity, and public health benefits. However, various regulatory technological, and financial barriers hinder the achievement of these goals. To address the challenges and policy solutions to achieve zero- emission freight at the Southern California ports, UCLA Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate and Environment and the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) hosted a conference at UCLA on June 8, 2018, Toward Zero-Emission Freight at Southern California’s Ports.

Our Summary Report outlines the main challenges and opportunities suggested in this day-long conference.


June 2018

Jordan Diamond Appointed to the Ocean Protection Council by Governor Brown

CLEE Executive Director and Law of the Sea Institute Co-Director, Jordan Diamond, was appointed by Governor Brown to the California Ocean Protection Council on June 28, 2018. She will join the other council members in helping to coordinate ocean conservation and management efforts among the various involved agencies. In this role, she will also be responsible for making ocean and coastal policy recommendations at the federal, state, and local level in order to better preserve and protect one of the state’s most iconic resources.

 


June 2018

Insuring California in a Changing Climate

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones

Climate change poses risks to California’s economy, residents, infrastructure, cities, and natural resources. The insurance industry, which exists to protect governments, individuals, and businesses from the most severe risks, will necessarily play a role in efforts to minimize the harmful impacts of a changing climate. On June 13, we convened insurance regulators, industry leaders, policymakers, scientists, and nonprofit researchers for a symposium seeking to better understand the industry will adapt to these new and increased risks.

See the symposium page for background materials and more information.

 


May 2018

Learning from Small Water System Consolidations in California

Water system consolidations can help address persistent water system inadequacies in small and disadvantaged communities. While consolidation offers many potential benefits for communities served by unreliable water systems, the costs and benefits associated with different consolidation options have not been well documented.

This new synthesis of our March 2018 workshop enumerates barriers to effective consolidations and identifies potential solutions for overcoming those barriers.

 


April 2018

Examining a Novel Mechanism for Groundwater Recharge

Recharge Net Metering (ReNeM) is a strategy that incentivizes recharge by offsetting costs incurred by landowners for operation and maintenance of water collection and infiltration systems that are placed on their land. Our Issue Brief presents a concise description of ReNeM, as well as a short account of an ongoing pilot program in California’s Pajaro Valley.

Further research on ReNeM is ongoing, and additional research products are currently in progress. 

 


April 2018

Improving California’s Stream Flow Monitoring System

Our new Issue Brief identifies key actions for improving stream flow monitoring in California. Stream gages monitor the most basic vital sign of California’s waterways—stream flow. Stream flow information also provides technical insights into basin hydrology, and those insights aid long-term water planning. As pressures on the state’s water systems intensify, the need for accurate and timely stream flow information will continue to grow. 

 


 

Recent Publications

 

CLIMATE & ENERGY

 

LAND USE

 

OCEANS