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ELI at 50: Building on the Past to Secure the Future

ELI 50th logoDecember 22, 2019, marks the official 50th Anniversary of the Environmental Law Institute, but we are celebrating it throughout the entire year! We are reflecting back on our important work in shaping environmental law and governance in the United States and across the globe and imagining an even more impactful future.


ELI’s Founding

Arlie House

ELI traces its origins to a national conference on the emerging field of environmental law held at the Airlie House in Virginia in September 1969 attended by 50 lawyers, practitioners, and academics from across the country. The conference itself had a significant impact on the legal profession by initiating fertile exchange among many lawyers who were breaking new ground. Importantly, the gathering endorsed creating ELI and the Environmental Law Reporter (ELR) to collect environmental statutes, regulations, court decisions, and to analyze developments in the field. Guided by its founders, the Conservation Foundation and the Public Law Education Institute, ELI was incorporated on December 22, 1969, as a 501(c)(3) organization, the very same day that NEPA was passed. ELI held its first education program in October 1970. In January 1971, the first issue of ELR was released--the first publication to address broadly the legal questions of environmental management. In 1973, ELI became an independent organization.

ELI Today

The Institute has grown to become a major research, education, and publication center for the full range of environmental professionals. ELI is a one-of-a kind environmental law think-and-do tank. ELI offers a non-partisan, objective forum; convening capacity and in-house technical strength; and first-rate research, educational programs and publications.

The Celebration

In celebration of our 50th Anniversary, ELI will be holding special events, programs, and publications throughout the year to look back at the last 50 years and look forward to the next. Each month will have its own "theme," beginning the year with one that has strongly animated ELI’s work through the years – pollution control – and ending in December with a focus on NEPA, the same month ELI and NEPA were formed.

January – Pollution Prevention and Rethinking "Waste"

February – Environmental Compliance: A Foundational Objective

March – Re-Imagining Environmental Governance

April – The Role of Law in Climate Response and Energy Transformation

May – Wetlands Protection and Hydrologic Cycle

June – Gender and the Environment

July – Environmental Justice and Vulnerable Communities

August The Courts and Rule of Law: Primary Forces in Advancing Environmental Protection

September – Technology as an Emerging Driver for Environmental Behaviors and Conditions

October – Stewarding Natural Resources for Intergenerational Well-being

November – Protecting the Ocean

December – NEPA 50 Years Later: Environmental Impact Assessment and Sustainable Development


Be on the lookout for new blogs, events, and more throughout the year!