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Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs

Latest News

Check out our latest podcast: Cool Cities: A/C Ordinances—The Hot New Trend in Fighting Extreme Heat?

Check out our latest webinar: Clean Air Act Regulations for Natural Disaster Management

Check out our latest report: Food Sovereignty and Self-Governance: Inuit Role in Managing Arctic Marine Resources

Read our latest "Around the States" column: Cities Compete for Businesses by Decarbonizing Their Grids

On April 3, 2020, Vanderbilt University law professors Jim Rossi and Christopher Serkin presented their award-winning article Energy Exactions at the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review (ELPAR) DC conference. Rossi and Serkin propose imposing exactions on developers to incentivize investment in low-carbon energy supply and energy efficient buildings.

Check out our CULTURE in a CLIMATE of CHANGE Four-Part Webinar Series!

ELI’s Tribal Program invites you to explore with renowned experts the nexus of environment, culture, and Indigenous sovereignty in policy and the law

  • Fighting Fire With Fire: Restoring traditional Indigenous practices for ecological stewardship. May 21, 2020
  • Swept Away: Explaining the race to save critical tribal cultural resources threatened by the impacts of climate change. October 21, 2020
  • Sacred Sites: Discussing the Thirty-Meter Telescope in context of Native Hawaiian Sovereignty and self-determination. October 27, 2020
  • Consultation, Collaboration, or Just Checking a Box? Environmental decision-making and consultation in the United States, Canada, and Colombia. November 2020


State, tribal, and local agencies are continually grappling with environmental legislation and related policy, attempting to generate the most effective and efficient methods of protecting the environment. However, their struggles are often overlooked by efforts to support legal reform and improved environmental programs.

The Environmental Law Institute recognizes that state, tribal, and local governments bear the primary responsibility for implementing and enforcing environmental protection laws. Since its inception in 1969, ELI has studied state programs, legal innovations, enforcement practices, and interrelationships with federal agencies. 

Center Activities

  • Training — working with state, tribal, and local agencies to help them design, implement, and enforce their own environmental laws. In an effort to build capacity and institutions, the Center conducts specialized training courses for officials at the state, tribal, and local levels.
  • Consultation — encouraging exchange of ideas among the states, through day-to-day consulting and organizing meetings between state officials and relevant experts. The Center also provides analytical services to assist states, tribes, and localities in evaluating and implementing environmental law and policy.
  • Survey and analysis of state programs — identifying successful state initiatives, and analyzing their methods and accomplishments. The Center then provides this information to other states and the federal government, allowing the sharing of ideas and achievements among interested parties.
  • Defining relationships between different levels of government — contributing to the public policy debate on relations between federal, state, sovereign tribal nation, and local governments. The Center is often called upon by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the states to assist in building state-federal relations.
  • ELI also provides resources to states, tribes, and municipalities through several topical centers, including the Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Policy Resource Center and the CWA 303(d) Program Resource Center.

The work of ELI’s Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs is closely aligned with the State and Federal Biodiversity Program, the Water Resource Management Program, the Water Quality Program, the Sustainable Use of Land Program, the Arctic Program, the Gulf of Mexico Program, the Indoor Environments and Green Building Program, and the Brownfields Program.


Producing a wide range of publications to serve state, tribal, and local agencies; the private bar; and the general public is central to the work of this program. These publications are a result of intense research and interpretation of data by experienced professionals at the Environmental Law Institute. They cover a variety of subjects pertinent to state, tribal, and local issues. Please visit our Publications Page for a complete list.


Recent Publications

Pro Bono Lawyers Draft Deep Decarbonization Model Laws

(September/October 2020)

Cover of the September/October 2020 Environmental Forum



Linda Breggin is the Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs.

Cynthia R. Harris is the Director of Tribal Programs and the Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs.