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Environmental Governance

The Environmental Governance Programs work to develop inventive approaches to new or entrenched environmental problems and changing technologies and economies. The term “governance” includes the range of legal and other tools employed in both the private and public sectors to foster environmental protection.

Governance tools include, for example, not only traditional regulations, but environmental assessments, information disclosure, market mechanisms, economic incentives, and public policies and programs that promote voluntary stewardship.

ELI’s Environmental Governance Programs operate at the international, federal, state and local levels. Key objectives are to:

  • Develop and foster innovative government and business approaches to environmental protection.
  • Safeguard and strengthen the safety net of federal environmental law.
  • Introduce policymakers and practitioners to innovative ideas from academia.
  • Educate judges about the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws.
  • Develop effective environmental, health, and safety governance structures for new technologies.


What’s New and Upcoming....


Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review (ELPAR) Conferences
Each year, Vanderbilt University Law School students work with an expert advisory committee and senior staff from ELI to identify the year's best academic articles that present legal and policy solutions to pressing environmental problems. These articles are published as a special edition of the Environmental Law Reporter, and are presented at a conference in Washington, DC, with discussion between authors and commenters from private practice, government, and advocacy groups. The 2017 DC conference will be held at ELI on March 31 from 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM, and will feature articles covering the following topics:

  • Comparing Companies' Comments on Regulations with their Securities Disclosures
  • Climate Exactions
  • The President's Budget as a Source of Agency Policy Control

ELPAR will also hold a symposium at Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville on March 13, 2017, from 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM, where the topic of discussion will be article arguing for statutory recognition of options to purchase conservation easements.


The Cutting Edge of Corporate Sustainability Disclosure: Scope, Metrics, Standards, and Ratings
We will examine key environmental disclosure challenges and opportunities that corporations and their counsel face today. For more information, click here for more details.


Column: Are State Climate Efforts on Wane?

In the May/June 2014 issue of The Environmental Forum, a column by ELI Senior Attorney Linda Breggin discusses a recent survey that raises questions about how the public views the role of states in addressing climate change. 

Blog Post: Farm Policy and Environmental Protection

In a recent Harvard Environmental Law Review blog post, Farm Policy and Environmental Protection: It’s Time to Raise the Bar, ELI Senior Attorneys Linda Breggin and Bruce Myers point out that the Farm Bill took an important step toward enhanced environmental protection by linking conservation compliance to crop insurance, but that  much more can reasonably be expected of large-scale commodity crop operations as a condition of federal support, particularly with respect to nutrient pollution.

Enforcement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the District of Columbia Department of the Environment (DDOE)

ELI recently worked with DDOE to develop new and update and revise existing enforcement SOPs. Each SOP contains a step-by-step process for performing a specific task, which can help ensure that staff systemically follow agency procedures. Most state agency programs have written procedures, but up-to-date and well-thought-out SOPs provide a road map for staff from beginning to end and can improve efficiency and effectiveness. SOPs can help to: 

  • Strengthen and support the legal defensibility of enforcement cases by, for example, providing specific instructions on how to properly enter a facility, show credentials, conduct interviews, and collect evidence; 
  • Improve the professionalism of agency employees and the agency's image in the community by providing detailed procedures to follow in dealing with the public and regulated entities; 
  • Educate new employees about the proper procedures for performing their jobs and re-train current employees; and
  • Demonstrate to U.S. EPA that the agency is performing delegated duties effectively and consistently.