About Us

State 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 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. In 1986, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ELI founded the Center for State, Local, and Regional Environmental Programs to promote this important agenda. This unique approach highlights ELI’s in-depth knowledge of state, local, and regional environmental law and programs, and supports the growing need for guidance and analysis of these protection efforts.

The State Center addresses these issues by advancing two goals. First, we focus on creating stronger state, local, and regional environmental programs. Secondly, we seek to support the role of state and local governments in environmental management and enforcement.

ELI pursues the goals of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs, through a variety of activities, including:

  • Training — working with state and local agencies to help them design, implement, and enforce their own environmental laws. In an effort to build capacity and institutions, the State Center conducts specialized training courses for officials at the state and local level.
  • Consultation — encouraging exchange of ideas among the states, through day-to-day consulting and organizing meetings between state officials and relevant experts. The State Center also provides analytical services to assist states 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 State Center then provides this information to other states and the federal government, allowing the sharing of ideas and achievements among interested parties.
  • Defining state-federal relationships — contributing to the public policy debate on state-federal relations. The State 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 the states 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 State Center 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 Gulf of Mexico Program, the Indoor Environments and Green Building Program, and the Brownfields Program.