ELI In the News
When the Environmental Law Institute compiled its more than 1,000-page compendium of pathways to decarbonize the United States, its editors asked the 58 chapter authors to recommend changes in law. The result is more than 1,500 adjustments to law that could reduce the nation’s collective carbon footprint, many of which call for repealing laws entirely. “What surprised me a bit reading the chapters, editing the chapters, was the extent to which the chapters said, look, on hydropower, on nuclear power, on distributed renewables, on utility-scale renewables, on carbon capture, law is getting in the way,” said editor John Dernbach, a professor of environmental law at Widener University. “And it turned out that removal of legal barriers is worth identifying as an additional legal tool.” . . .
"The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying, ‘This is mine,’ and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society.” So argued Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1754. And so bemoans anyone who wants to tackle the might of NIMBYism and local property rights in the global fight against climate change today. . . .
When it comes to plastics policy, recent momentum appears to be on the side of environmentalists. Bans and taxes on plastic bags are increasingly common across the United States and in other countries, while items like plastic straws are growing more controversial. Those worried about potential pollution and toxicity associated with plastics see the trend as critical to rectifying environmental issues. But during a recent afternoon panel in Washington, D.C., members of the industry pushed back on that narrative. . . .
At a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Oct. 22, the Environmental Law Institute honored LSU Law Professor Nick Bryner with an Environmental Futures Award, which the nonprofit presents to “the next generation of leaders striving to address the environmental challenges of tomorrow.” Bryner spent a year working for the Environmental Law Institute after graduating from George Washington University Law School in 2012, but his interest in environmental issues that affect public health was sparked long before then. . . .
During a lunchtime keynote at the GreenTech 2019 conference, hosted by the Environmental Law Institute in Seattle, Amazon Prime Air vice president Gur Kimchi laid out the company’s vision for drone deliveries. Amazon looks at drone deliveries in a few ways. First, especially with all the attention being paid to environmental protection, every drone delivery is “a package not delivered by a car.” . . .
From blockchain to 3D printing, new technologies have the potential to green the supply chain across industry sectors, and government can accelerate the process with new performance-based regulations. That was one of the main takeaways of Green Tech 2019, a two-day green technology conference that took place in Seattle this week, hosted by the Environmental Law Institute, a non-profit policy group. . . .
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) Prime Air vice president Gur Kimchi held an audience of clean technology and environmental policy experts spellbound as he laid out the company’s vision of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) darting around the sky delivering packages to consumers in 30 minutes or less. ”We are very comfortable that the economics of this business are great,” said Kimchi, in a reference to the Prime Air delivery drone, an electric aircraft that is capable of both a helicopter-like vertical takeoff and landing as well as forward flight. “It is the safest and most environmentally responsible and also highly scalable.” . . .
The Supreme Court’s environmental docket is still in flux just days from the launch of its new term, which begins Oct. 7. One of two high-stakes pollution cases on the calendar might not happen at all, and the court hasn’t yet decided whether to add more. Debates over natural gas pipelines, climate change, and the Flint water crisis are vying for the justices’ attention. Challenges to the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks, meanwhile, are inching ahead in lower jurisdictions. But experts are on guard in case any of them leapfrog to the Supreme Court or line up for a future term. . . .
After three years of high-stakes analysis and sometimes-clamorous rhetoric over environmental and community impacts, four possible courses of action remain on the table for dealing with heavy traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland. The Maryland Transportation Authority in August proposed three possible routes for a new span, which would be the third to cross the Bay in the state. The agency also included a so-called “no-build” option — managing the congestion without constructing a new bridge. . . .
The question of which streams, lakes, wetlands and other water bodies across the U.S. should receive federal protection under the Clean Water Act has been a major controversy in environmental law over the past 20 years. The latest twist came on Sept. 9, 2019, when U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Army Assistant Secretary R.D. James signed a final rule repealing the Obama administration’s “Clean Water Rule.” . . .