Education Environment Reads Social Media

What I’m Reading – Jan 2 2024

Today is a good day to read.

I subscribe to a good number of newsletters. Most are freely available, even if you don’t subscribe to the parent publication

One such newsletter is Landline, from High Country News. I subscribe to the Landline because it has excellent coverage of what’s happening with clean air and water, the Endangered Species Act, the Interior, and climate change.

From the Landline:  Is Biden waging a war on energy? Or on the climate?

Biden is twixt and tween on climate change and we’re going to end up with a really bad President if we don’t recognize this. Yes, we wish he could have done more for the environment and fighting climate change. Given. However, if you keep up with court cases, you realize he has done what he could given the current state of our court systems—not to mention the current state of Congress.


Another newsletter is from The 74, a media site dedicated to all things educational. You don’t have to be a teacher—or a parent—to have an interest in education. After all, what happens in schools impacts on what type of citizens kids become in the future. And even us older childfree couples have to live with these citizens.

From The 74, a story about one of the largest school districts in the country in Virginia, and the impact of its mistaken release of private and confidential data from 35,000 students.

From The 74: Alleged Rape Victim Presses Virginia’s Fairfax Schools for Answers on Records Disclosure


The Climate Coach is one of Washington Post’s free newsletters. You don’t have to be a subscriber to the Post to get the newsletter. Today’s Climate Coach is about our need to stop buying so much crap…and to consider getting rid of the crap we have.

Article has had the paywall removed.

From the Climate Coach: The Swedes know the secret to happiness: You are not your stuff


Speaking of newsletters, I suspect most of us are signed up for one or more newletters from authors who publish on Substack. I subscribe to several, though I can’t afford to be a paying client of all of them.

You might have heard recently about a neo-Nazi account on Substack, and the company’s response when asked about it. Linked below are some of the replies from people I follow on Substack.

As for me? If someone moves from Substack, I’ll do my best to find and follow them. But I won’t unsubscribe from someone who wants to stay on Substack. I’ve had an online site long enough to know that no matter where you go, bad people follow. I lease my server space from Linode, which is now a part of Akamai. I would not be surprised if Akamai is hosting a neo-Nazi web site. Or two. And if I find this out, I’m not going to pull my server and go elsewhere, because wherever I go, the bad people will follow. If not immediately, someday.

If you want to silence bad people, you drown them out with the good. So, don’t link to the bad people, don’t talk to the bad people, and don’t give the bad people attention. Only echo the good.

So, I’m linking to the good.

Kevin Kruse: Moving Forward

Ken White: Substack Has A Nazi Opportunity

Thomas Zimmer: On Substack’s Nazi Problem, and Ours



Environment Legal, Laws, and Regs Reads Texas

What I’m Reading – Dec 29 2024

The Endangered Species Act turns 50. There’s good news, and bad, about the law.

The good news is, it works. The bad news is, Republicans and some industries such as the fossil fuel, timber, mineral extraction, and cattle industries, don’t like that it’s working. And you can toss in a few states among those who have declared themselves just peachy keen to let species go extinct.

High Country New: The epic history of the Endangered Species Act

Sierra Club: Two Stoneflies Lead the Way for Conserving Other Uncharismatic Species

Vox: The ridiculously stupid reason the US is letting animals spiral toward oblivion

PBS: Architects of the Endangered Species Act reflect on 50th anniversary of groundbreaking measure


Our country has completely recovered from the COVID slowdown, inflation is under control, unemployment is down, and wages have risen—this despite a desperate effort by US corporations to milk the people of this country for as many profits as possible.

Yet, nary a peep from the media giving Biden any kudos for, at a minimum, staying out of the way and letting federal agencies do their job to control a post-COVID economy.

Public Notice: Biden doesn’t get enough credit for his economic record


I’ve been following the antics of Texas governor and legislature in court documents for some time. Without firing a shot, the state has unilaterally declared itself independent of the United States.

(Well, except when it holds its hand out for federal funds.)

The Texas government has triggered acrimony between the US and Mexico at a time when we need Mexico’s help to handle mass migrations. It undermines the federal effort to control migration, and then turns around and tells the press the southern border is ‘wide open’. And Texas creates havoc and hardship for citizen and migrant alike by shipping poor migrants to northern cities, without giving the cities a heads up, and without the migrants even having the clothing they would need to survive.

Worse, other than independent publications like the Texas Tribune, the media has done an appallingly bad job documenting the damage Texas is causing. Instead it plays into the Republican talking points of “Oh, Biden is in trouble! Migration at the border is out of control!”

I’ll have more on the Texas efforts, migration, and the legal cases associated with the efforts, in separate posts. As for the media, all I can do with it is focus on sharing stores from decent media sources, like the Texas Tribune.

Texas Tribune: U.S. Department of Justice says it’ll sue if Texas enforces new law punishing illegal border crossing



Climate Change Energy Users

Multi-stage heat pumps are the cat’s jammies

My friend Simon St. Laurent posted a video on Facebook that goes into the mechanics—and efficiencies—of a heat pump.

Homes in Savannah are primarily cooled and heated by heat pumps. The house we bought had a 2.5 ton unit, with the interior portion in the attic. Being new to HVAC systems installed in the attics, we weren’t familiar with the important rule to these units:

You have to treat your condensate pipes at least 4 times a year for them to remain unclogged at all times.

It wasn’t until we saw water dripping down the wall from the air intake vent that we realized we had a problem. Water had been collecting in the plenum (that’s the piece that holds the HVAC in a vertical system and provides duct attachment) and badly rusted it. The cost to replace the plenum was enough, and the system only a few years shy of replacement, so we decided to replace the system with a new one.

For the size of the unit, I performed my own analysis using the extremely difficult to use Manual J calculations and determined we really needed a 2.7 ton heat pump. Because of the smaller size, our unit was running for longer periods of time, but it also wasn’t short cycling—the unit wasn’t turning on and off too frequently. Short cycling is the death of an HVAC unit, which is why HVAC companies typically recommend a smaller unit if your home needs fall between unit sizes. Still, constant running isn’t highly efficient, either.

When we bought our new unit, we went with a 3-ton unit, which normally would be a little too large for our smallish house. However, we also bought a multi-stage rather than a single-stage heat pump. Specifically, we bought a 5-stage heat pump from Carrier.

A multi-stage heat pump doesn’t just run on and off, it also runs at lower capacities, with matching lower speed fan. The unit runs longer, but uses less energy because it’s running at a lower speed compression. You also don’t get sudden blasts of high heat or freezing cold that you would with a single stage heat pump. And you rarely hear our unit because, for the most part, it runs at stage 1 or stage 2.

We could have gone with a full ‘infinity’ stage unit, with an infinite number of stages, but our small home and smaller unit size doesn’t justify the additional expense. We could have also gone with a two stage unit—a very popular option—but I liked the idea of the unit being able to run at even lower speeds than what you normally get with a two-stage. Our system can run as low as 25% capacity versus the typical 70% capacity you get with a two-stage.

Unlike single-stage heat pumps, you don’t set cooling temps uncomfortably high and heating temps uncomfortably low in order to save on energy use. The real key is find your comfortable temperatures, but when you vary them throughout the day, do so gradually. When you change the temperature by one degree, the unit is able to power down but still meet the new temperature demand. With the smart thermostat we bought, the unit actually anticipates the temperature change and begins to gradually cool or heat to meet it.

We’ve had the unit for one year and I did an analysis of *energy use for the year. I found we used 17% less energy than the previous year. This doesn’t seem like much until you consider that we’ve set the house for more comfortable temperatures, especially in the hotter summer. In addition, we had a hotter summer in 2022 over 2021, as well as a freakish period of below 20 degree weather this winter. (We used a base heater in the garage during the subzero weather to keep garage pipes unfrozen. Without this demand, our energy use would have been 19% less for the year.)

I estimate the new unit will pay for itself in energy savings within 5 to 7 years. The savings will pay for the higher cost of a multi-stage system within two years.

Heat pumps aren’t for everyone. But unless you live in the frigid north, keep them in mind the next time you replace your HVAC. And if you get a heat pump, get a multi-stage unit.

*Only compare energy use, because electrical companies tend to screw with costs throughout the year.

Environment Legal, Laws, and Regs

Sackett v EPA: Today’s the day

Today’s the day when the second Sackett v EPA case is heard in the Supreme Court. The consequences of today’s imbalanced Supreme Court could be devastating to the quality of the waters in our country.

I’ll be writing about this case after the oral arguments. In the meantime, I’m putting together a page (Sackett v EPA Documents and articles) with links to documents I’ve collected over the years. All of the court documents aren’t fully linked, but the key set of material is the EPA Administrative Record. This set of documents contains the reports and photos that form the background for the EPA case.

The Sacketts contend that they needed no CWA permit because their land was separated from Priest Lake by a road, and therefore, there is no contiguous connection between the wetlands on their land and the lake. The EPA contends that a manmade structure, such as a berm, dike, or in this case, road, does not alter the fact that the wetland does, indeed, have a significant impact on the lake.

These arguments directly relate to the question that this hearing is supposed to address. But the Sackett lawyer, the infamous Pacific Legal Foundation, decided to blow the case up by challenging what constitutes a ‘tributary’ in the Clean Water Act—a challenge that could have disastrous impact on our waters in the country.

The courts should not address the latter challenge—it’s not included in the question related to the case—but as we discovered last year, this Supreme Court plays by a different set of rules now.

You can listen to the oral arguments at this link.


Sackett v EPA: Documents and Articles

(Links in process)

The Sacketts have been at the Supreme court twice. The first time, the question was whether an EPA compliance order could be challenged in court. The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that it could.

The second case has more far reaching consequences in that it gives the current Supreme Court license to answer the question: what exactly are the EPA-protected waters of the US (WOTUS)?

Original Case

The question was whether an EPA compliance order could be considered an agency final action, and challenged in court.

Idaho District Court

The *RECAP court docket for the original Sackett v. EPA court case in Idaho, 2008, and any freely downloadable copies of court documents it contains.

Documents not held at RECAP for this case:

Document 1-2: Attachment B

Document 1-3: Attachment C

Document 1-4: Attachment D

Document 14: Motion to dismiss

Document 15: Memorandum in support

Document 15-1: Attachment A

Document 15-2: Attachment B

Document 15-3: Attachment C

Document 15-4: Attachment D

Document 19: Response to motion to dismiss

Document 20: Reply to response

Document 22: Judgement to dismiss

Document 23: Motion for reconsideration

Document 23-1: Memorandum in support

Document 26: Memorandum in opposition

Document 27: Reply to response

Document 28: Order denying motion for reconsideration

EPA Administrative Record

The administrative record includes all documents the Department considered when making the decision.

EPA Administrative Record for Sackett compliance order, including copies of all documents.

Ninth Circuit

Copy of docket

Court decision

Supreme Court


Docket for original Supreme Court case related to the Sacketts in 2012.

Oral arguments


Articles related to first case

Oyez overview

Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute entry

SCOTUSBlog Lyle Dennistan: Opinion recap: Taking EPA to court

ABA: Sackett v. EPA: Implications for administrative compliance

Nina Mendelson: In Sackett v. EPA, Troubling Potential for SCOTUS to Undermine Government’s Ability to Promptly Respond to Environmental Threats

Supreme Court case involving Idaho lake house ignites conservative cause against EPA

Lowell Rothschild Before and After Sacket vs US EPA

Spokesman-Review Priest Lake couple’s land dispute with EPA going to high court

NPR When Property Rights, Environmental laws collide

The Sacketts Got Their Day in Court on the Merits; Another Lesson in Being Careful What You Wish For

Craig Pittman Supreme Court gets a chance to botch another wetlands case

Sacketts likely to win Supreme Court case, law profs say

Current Sackett v EPA case

Idaho District Court

— post appeal and Supreme Court decision —

Document 54: Motion to stay litigation

Document 56: Stipulation to stay

Document 59: Government answer to complaint

Document 60: Scheduling form – litigation plan

Document 62-1: Index certification

Document 62-2: Administrative Record Index

Document 67: STIPULATION Motion to Amend the Scheduling Order

Document 73: RESPONSE to Motion re 70 MOTION to Strike

Document 73-1, Document 73-2, Document 73-3

Document 76: MEMORANDUM/BRIEF filed by Chantell Sackett, Michael Sackett Request for Judicial Notice

Document 77: MEMORANDUM/BRIEF re 76 Memorandum/Brief

Document 82: MEMORANDUM/BRIEF re 77 Memorandum/Brief

Document 84: REPLY to Response to Motion re 70 MOTION to Strike 62 Administrative Record

Document 84-1: Attachment A

Document 85: MOTION File Surreply to Plaintiffs’ Motion to Strike

Document 85-1: Memorandum in support

Document 88-1: Exhibit A – Supplemental Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Document 90: RESPONSE to Motion re 88 MOTION to Supplement Complaint

Document 91: REPLY to Response to Motion re 88 MOTION


Document 101: The United States’ ANSWER to 98 Amended Complaint

Document 103-1: Memorandum in support

Document 105-1: Memorandum in support

Document 105-2: Exhibit

Document 109: Response to motion

Document 112: Reply to Response

Document 116: Notice by USEPA

Ninth Circuit

Copy of docket

Document 51: Sackett supplemental brief

Document 54: EPA supplemental brief

Supreme Court


Docket for latest Supreme Court challenge.

SCOTUSBlog entries for latest Supreme Court Challenge.


EPA Proposes to Use Science to Identify Waters of the United States. I’m Shocked, Shocked.

E & E News: Pivotal Supreme Court term begins with WOTUS war

Vox: The Supreme Court case that’s likely to handcuff the Clean Water Act

High Country News: Will the Supreme Court gut the Clean Water Act?

Wetlands case tops court agenda

Will Sackett v. EPA Clarify the Scope of Federal Regulatory Jurisdiction Over Wetlands?

The Supreme Court appears determined to shrink the Clean Water Act

Supreme Court appears to back EPA in WOTUS war

General and Related

A Brief Overview of Rulemaking and Judicial Review

Development authority seeks wetland permit for Bryan County ‘mega-site’

*RECAP is an effort to make PACER federal court documents freely available to the public. People use a browser extension for RECAP when accessing a court document. A copy of that document is then also loaded to the RECAP stores and made available for everyone at no additional charge.

The documents I have were downloaded before I installed the RECAP browser extension. Unfortunately, I can’t donate them to RECAP as the organization has no way of vetting that the documents are legitimate and untainted.