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Making a Difference: ELI in Action

ELI has a proud record of making law work for people, places, and the planet for nearly 50 years. Here we highlight some of our more recent accomplishments with regard to environmental law, policy, and protection. For a printer-friendly version, click here.


Improving Climate Resilience Through Green Infrastructure

floodThe recent spate of extreme storm events has drawn attention to zoning and stormwater management as tools that can help to mitigate flooding.  Communities in the Chesapeake Bay region are particularly vulnerable, as they are likely to face projected sea-level rise, increased flooding, and more intense rainstorms. Helping these communities stay ahead of the curve is the focus of a recent ELI report, Green Infrastructure for Chesapeake Stormwater Management: Legal Tools for Climate Resilient Siting. This report explains how existing stormwater laws and regulations can be used to help communities in Maryland and Virginia reduce their risk to climate change impacts, while also providing replicable models for other coastal communities across the nation.

Tracking Regulatory Change in the Trump Erareform

ELI and the American Bar Association’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice jointly released the first edition of Environmental Protection in the Trump Era, an eBook that examines the Trump Administration’s critical changes to environmental protection since inauguration day. Free for download and written for a broad audience, the eBook provides a snapshot of major Trump Administration actions on climate change, clean air and water, pipelines and offshore drilling, toxic properties and superfund sites, regulatory changes, budget reductions, and environmental justice. The publication builds upon Regulatory Reform in the Trump Era, produced by ELI last spring. An update is planned for early 2018.

If We Could Make Meat Without Cows or Chickens, Would You Eat It?

A challenge for feeding a hungry world is how to develop new protein sources that will be accepted by consumers. To better understand consumer interests, ELI, in partnership with the nonprofit New Harvest, conducted focus group research resulting in Perceptions of Cellular Agriculture: Key Findings From Qualitative Research. The project will ensure that investments in agriculture research at the cellular level to develop an alternative food supply take into consideration these concerns. Learn more about this and other projects from ELI’s new Technology, Innovation, and the Environmental program here.

 Visit https://www.eli.org/research-reports to download these and other recent reports from ELI.


Recap of the 2017 Annual Award Dinner

SteinerELI presented its 2017 Environmental Achievement Award to Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, on October 18, 2017, in recognition of his visionary leadership on global sustainability and rule of law in the environmental setting. Mr. Steiner’s poignant remarks underscored the critical value of ELI’s mission to promote effective rule of law in the environmental sphere. “Law is not just about codifying the rules,” said Mr. Steiner. “It is about codifying the foundations of what binds us together in society" and “allows us to do things that otherwise we would not be able to do, together.” He also focused on themes of cooperation and partnership, adding that "we need institutions that allow us to transact on this fundamental recognition that we need one another in order to succeed, to thrive, to protect, and above all to ensure future generations have something to look forward to with optimism.” Watch Mr. Achim’s moving remarks at https://www.eli.org/award-dinner.

A Winner in Our MidstJay

Jay Pendergrass, Vice President of Programs & Publications, received the Gerald H. Ritterbusch Conformity Assessment Medal at the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI’s) 2017 Leadership and Service Awards on October 18, 2017, in Washington, DC. His medal honors distinguished service in promoting the understanding and application of conformity assessment methods as a means of providing confidence in standards compliance for the marketplace. ANSI’s awards recognize those who have made significant contributions to national and international standardization activities and the enhancement of the global voluntary consensus standards system. 



Emerging Environmental Issues in Native Communities

bisonTribes and Native Villages in the United States find themselves on the front line of disputes over natural resource management and pollution control. Emerging and on-going issues include adaptation to climate change, asserting treaty rights over natural resources, economic obstacles and opportunities for renewable energy development, environmental justice, and tribal water rights. On September 19 and September 25, ELI helped raise awareness about these current challenges through webinars where our expert panels delved into issues surrounding environmental protection in tribal and urban Indian communities. Indigenous people across the globe face similar concerns.

Exploring New Paradigms for Environmental Governance

corpThis year’s Corporate Forum and ELI-Miriam Hamilton Keare Policy Forum focused on new ways to approach environmental governance. With the Trump Administration’s focus on increasing the role of states, decisionmakers and stakeholders have a timely opportunity to rethink the paradigm of cooperative federalism and environmental protection in the United States. Both Forums were held on October 18 in conjunction with the annual award dinner. At the Corporate Forum, titled Corporate Role in the Environmental Protection Enterprise, panelists discussed whether private environmental governance should move away from a top-down, law enforcement model to an “environkearemental protection enterprise” in which the states and federal government, the private sector, and the public all play key roles. The Policy Forum, The New Federalism & Environmental Governance, focused on the opportunities and challenges of increased state roles in light of politics, economics, technology, and other factors influencing environmental protection. The topics stemmed from the Angus Macbeth Dialogues on cooperative federalism. Please take our survey to help inform the outcome of our research on this topic.

Making Natural Resources a Source of Cooperation Rather Than Conflict

oilfieldELI, together with the United Nation's Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, Columbia University, Duke University, and the University of California, Irvine, has developed a new Massive Open Online Course to advance progress on environmental security and peace. Geared toward technical experts, field practitioners, and advanced university students, this timely and relevant course addresses three key questions: How do natural resources and the environment contribute to or amplify armed conflict and violence? How are natural resources and the environment impacted by war and armed conflict? How can natural resources and the environment support post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction? Be sure to watch the recently released trailer!  If you’d like to sign up for this eight-week course starting on March 1, 2018, register here.

Discovering Opportunities in Renewable Energy

oceansOcean energy technologies such as wave, tidal, and current hydrokinetic energy are at an advanced phase of development overseas but are off to a slow start here in the United States. Should more resources and subsidies be put into hydrokinetic energy research? What environmental impacts do these technologies pose compared to other renewable energy sources? What regulatory barriers need to be addressed to support the development of the hydrokinetic technology sector in the United States? On September 26, ELI convened an expert panel to discuss these and other questions on the future of hydrokinetic energy in the United States. 


For more information about past and future seminars, visit https://www.eli.org/events-calendar.


TEF CoverIs Chevron Deference Dying?

For more than 30 years, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Chevron v. NRDC has been at the heart of environmental law and administration law generally. In Chevron, the Court mandated that courts defer to reasonable interpretations of ambiguous statutory provisions by the implementing agencies. Under subsequent decisions, the scope of Chevron grew broader. In Auer v. Robbins, the Supreme Court mandated deference to agencies’ interpretation of their own regulations. Then in National Cable & Telecommunications Association v. Brand X Internet Services, the Supreme Court held that an agency’s interpretation trumped prior judicial precedent. But the tide may now be turning. During the confirmation process of now-Justice Neil Gorsuch, his criticisms of the Chevron deference doctrine became widely known. The September-October issue of The Environmental Forum features a debate on the issue. Has the death knell for Chevron been sounded? Would the demise of the famed precedent incapacitate EPA and other federal agencies? What would diminished deference mean for attempts to address the complex environmental challenges of the 21st century? Download the article here.



Be sure to chck out ELI's blog series, Vibrant Environment. Some recent postings include:

• This Ain’t Normal: Calculating the Social Costs of Carbon, by David Paul Clarke
Look! A New Pollutant, by Dave Rejeski
Helping Communities Participate in the NEPA Scoping Process, by Amy Streitwieser

For more, visit https://www.eli.org/vibrant-environment-blog.



N&AIn collaboration with the Vanderbilt University Law School, ELI published the annual Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review in the August issue of the Environmental Law Reporter’s News & Analysis.

Recent articles featured in the Environmental Law Reporter's News & Analysis include:

James W. Coleman, How Cheap Is Corporate Talk? Comparing Companies' Comments on Regulations With Their Securities Disclosures (Aug. 2017)
Michael J. McClary and Jessica B. Goldstein, FIFRA at 40: The Need for Penalties for Pesticide Crimes (Sept. 2017)
Alejandro E. Camacho, Michael Robinson-Dorn, Asena Cansu Yildiz, and Tara Teegarden, Assessing State Laws and Resources for Endangered Species Protection (Oct. 2017)

And be sure you're getting all that ELR has to offer, including Daily Update and Weekly Update. Learn more here.



Missed the "What's New at ELI" report from last summer? It can be downloaded here.