ELI In the News
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. . . .
In 1948, after Nazi Germany exterminated millions of Jews and other minorities during World War II, the United Nations adopted a convention establishing a new crime so heinous it demanded collective action. Genocide, the nations declared, was “condemned by the civilized world” and justified intervention in the affairs of sovereign states. Now, a small but growing number of world leaders including Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron have begun citing an offense they say poses a similar threat to humanity and remains beyond the reach of international criminal law: ecocide, or widespread destruction of the environment. . . .
Internships build the road to future careers, giving students the opportunity to try out a field and develop professional skills and relationships. But many are unpaid, which can put them out of the reach of low-income or first-generation students. Amy Liang, a senior majoring in both environmental studies and philosophy, politics and law, received the support she needed through Harpur Edge, which provided a Harpur Edge Funding Award that allowed her to participate in the Harpur Law Council Public Interest Law Internship Program last summer. . . .
A top White House climate adviser denounced "fiscally irresponsible repeat spending on disaster after disaster" and said the government should improve the nation's resilience to floods and other perils. David Hayes, President Biden's special assistant for climate policy, says in a new article that the Federal Emergency Management Agency should encourage states to develop "climate resilience plans" to help them incorporate risks from warming into disaster recovery. . . .
President-elect Joe Biden ran his campaign, in part, on a promise to fight climate change. But climate isn’t the only crisis in town. The world also faces biodiversity losses on a massive scale. In 2019, the United Nations put out a report documenting the current biodiversity crisis, noting that 1 million animal and plant species could be at risk of extinction. And, just as with climate, the Biden administration could take action to protect biodiversity, conservationists say. . . .
Federal courts could stand in the way of President-elect Joe Biden's efforts to undo the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks and stymie any efforts to take bold climate action, legal experts say. Biden's team will need to quickly develop a nimble courtroom strategy, first deciding what to do about the dozens of Trump environmental rules currently tied up in litigation. And the incoming administration will have to tread carefully in promulgating any new, far-reaching climate regimes, recognizing that it faces a court system with more than 230 Trump appointees — including a new 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court. "The question that the Biden administration is really going to face is how to engage in rulemaking in the shadow of the Supreme Court," UCLA School of Law professor Ann Carlson said during a recent panel discussion hosted by the Environmental Law Institute. . . .
I was raised in the segregated Deep South in Jackson, Miss., and was not yet 12 in 1963, when Bull Connor used firehoses and snarling dogs in an effort to prevent students from demonstrating outside of Birmingham’s City Hall. In June of that same year, civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, was assassinated in Jackson. Later that fall, four African-American schoolgirls, ages 11 to 14—Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol McNair—were killed by a white supremacist who bombed their Birmingham church during Sunday morning services. The following summer, civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were found dead, buried in an earthen dam in Mississippi. . . .