ELI In the News
Facing lawsuits and criticism from scientists, environmental groups, and the chemical industry, the US Environmental Protection Agency is overhauling its approach for evaluating risks associated with high-priority chemicals that are already on the market. According to Michal Freedhoff, head of the EPA’s chemicals office, the changes will impact the first 10 assessments completed by the Trump administration under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). They will also affect the next 24 assessments, which the EPA has already begun, and those that the agency conducts in the future. . . .
The U.S. Supreme Court’s latest term, wrapping up this month, went surprisingly well for environmental lawyers who feared cases on the docket could prove disastrous to their cause. Many advocates prepared for a barrage of bad news from the conservative-leaning bench as the court weighed major Clean Water Act, Superfund, and pipeline questions, plus non-environment cases that could cause collateral damage. Instead, they got a slate of decisions they could live with—even some worth celebrating. “We got six votes,” Earthjustice lawyer David Henkin said of the 6-3 ruling in the water case, County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund. “It really blew my mind.” . . .
The White House has nominated Carlton Waterhouse to run EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, which oversees the expansive Superfund program and other waste issues. Waterhouse, who has been the top political appointee at OLEM since January, first joined EPA after graduating from Penn State and Howard University Law School in the 1990s. More recently, he's taught law at Howard and joined the board of the Environmental Law Institute. Waterhouse has done a lot of work on environmental justice — a key area for Superfund oversight given that contaminated sites are often located in or near communities of color and poor communities. . . .
Wetlands are one of the most valuable, and least understood, of our natural resources. Wetlands clean and replenish water supplies, reduce flood risk by soaking up stormwater, provide rich wildlife habitat, and offer incredible beauty and recreational opportunities. May is American Wetlands Month, a time to celebrate their many benefits and to thank those who work tirelessly to protect and restore them. . . .
In the Biden administration, environmental issues are taking center stage. President Joe Biden's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is being reshaped and reinvigorated, prioritizing climate change and reduction of air pollution. One of Biden's first signed executive orders is telling. It discusses multiple ways to address air pollution, including reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, establishing job-creating fuel economy standards, reducing air pollution from coal- and electric-fired utilities, and accounting for climate change. . . .
The Biden administration on Thursday introduced its “America the Beautiful” plan to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s land and water by 2030, calling it the country’s first-ever national conservation goal and issuing a stark warning about the state of the country’s natural areas. “Nature in America is in trouble and Americans across the country are seeing and feeling the impact,” said Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “We need a collective, all hands on deck national effort to conserve and restore the land and water upon which we all depend.” . . .
One hundred days into office, President Joe Biden has made rapid progress in dismantling his predecessor's energy and climate agenda and implementing his own. Biden won the election on a campaign pledge to decarbonize the US economy by midcentury, an effort he formally kicked off on Jan. 20 with a detailed executive order targeting former President Donald Trump's rollbacks of signature Obama-era climate policies. A week later, Biden signed another sweeping executive order establishing a "whole of government" approach to "tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad." . . .
An amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing a right to a healthy environment is the call issued in a new book by Franklin Kury, who more than 50 years ago, as a newly elected Pennsylvania state senator, drafted and championed an Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. That amendment was enacted on Earth Day 1970 and ratified by Pennsylvania’s voters one year later. Forward-looking states like Hawaii and Montana followed suit, enacting strong environmental protections in their own state constitutions. . . .
During the pandemic, sustainable food products like organic milk and cage-free eggs have continued to drive economic growth. The problem is, they’re not as sustainable as they claim to be. They are also marketed 39 percent higher than conventionally marketed products. But this shift has shown to be more than a marketing ploy. Companies have taken note of consumer’s concern for the planet, recognizing the turn towards more conscious consumerism as an opportunity to get rich at the expense of marginalized communities around the world. . . .
Brenda Mallory’s supporters say her decades of environmental law experience qualify her as the best choice to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality. But she also brings a new perspective to the role as the first African American to hold the position, one shaped by her humble beginnings in Waterbury, Conn. “That’s really important when we’re talking about environmental justice, that we have someone whose life experiences teach her about what that means,” said Jeffrey Gleason, executive director of the Southern Environmental Law Center. . . .