ELI In the News
When the people of Rio Blanco first saw workers bringing heavy construction machinery into their village along the sacred Gualcarque River in Honduras 15 years ago, they went to Berta Isabel Cáceres for help. Cáceres, an activist representing the Lenca tribe who co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), would go on for a decade leading a campaign to stop the Agua Zarca Dam, a joint venture between a Chinese dam developer, the largest in the world, and a Honduran company, Desarrollos Energeticos SA (Desa). . . .
Towns and cities throughout the U.S., and globally, are on the front lines when it comes to addressing food waste and climate change. Recognizing the link between these two challenges, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) released a new report in August to help address them simultaneously — in their climate action plans (CAPs). “As the entities primarily responsible for managing waste and safeguarding public health, including ensuring that low-income communities and communities of color do not bear disproportionate burdens, cities are well situated to leverage their on-the-ground expertise and local policymaking authorities to simultaneously address climate change, food security, waste reduction, and environmental justice,” explains Linda Breggin, Senior Attorney and Director of ELI’s Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs. . . .
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been collecting a lot of information about flood risks across America, including the increased risk of flooding linked to climate change. But the agency has not effectively used that new knowledge to persuade more Americans to buy flood insurance, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. . . .
EPA’s waste office might soon be run by a law professor whose background could prove key in addressing the Biden administration’s environmental justice goals along with hot-button concerns like so-called forever chemicals. Carlton Waterhouse, whose nomination to oversee the Office of Land and Emergency Management is being taken up by a Senate committee this week, would bring a vital perspective to the job, advocates say . . . .
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.” . . .