According to the Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (ITRC), in 2018, the United States generated approximately 15 million tons of plastic containers and packaging, but only recycled roughly 2 million tons (13%). The majority of that plastic instead was either landfilled (approximately 10 million tons or 70%) or incinerated (approximately 2.5 million tons or 17%). The recycling rate for plastic is much lower than rates for other common packaging materials including glass (31%), paper (80%), aluminum (35%), and steel (75%).
California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986—also known as Proposition 65—is widely considered to be a driver of chemical regulation through litigation. And because anyone who provides an alleged violator the requisite notice can bring suit to enforce the Act, including Proposition 65 “bounty hunters,” it also is viewed as a source of significant windfalls for private plaintiffs and their counsel.
Recent judicial and administrative changes to the scope of the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA) have major implications for state regulators. In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, ELI Senior Attorney James McElfish examines the existing legal framework for state protection of nonfederal waters and discusses potential impacts of upcoming federal decisions, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency in October.
The environment got a big boost last September when a rocket blasting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base orbited Landsat 9. The new satellite is a highly instrumented space probe designed to scrutinize the Earth from aloft with visual images and an array of other sensors. Test photos taken shortly after launch showed outstanding resolution of the biosphere unrolling below.
Global plastics production doubled over the last two decades, and is predicted to double again in the next two decades. Increased production has led to increased waste. Ocean plastics pollution is rising, and the ocean will likely contain more plastics mass than fish by 2050.
On October 2, approximately 25,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean from a pipeline off the shore of Huntington Beach in Orange County, California. While the full environmental impact of the spill is still under investigation, it is clear that the oil spill threatens the money, time, and effort that have gone into rehabilitating and maintaining nearby wetlands. Dead fish and birds were seen washing up on shore. Oil now coats the rocky beach.
“The United States has a very effective liability management policy and legal framework, but that same framework has some unintended consequences for the circular economy,” including risk aversion that can create barriers to circular economy businesses, said John Lovenburg, Vice President of Environment at BNSF Railway, in his opening remarks as moderator of ELI’s fourth GreenTech webinar March 24, 2021, on “The Emerging Circular Economy.”
One voter in seven believes that Hillary Clinton is running a cabal of satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles. A member of Congress charges that last year’s wildfires in the western states were caused by Jewish space lasers. A U.S. senator insists that China aims to breed a race of super soldiers by harvesting visiting athletes’ DNA when it hosts the winter Olympics in 2022. The Ohio legislature recently heard testimony alleging that the Covid vaccines are magnetizing people. According to a 2012 survey, one in four members of the U.S. public does not know the Earth orbits the Sun. A poll by the Associated Press in 2014 found that four in ten Americans dispute evolution and half do not believe the Big Bang theory.
As summer approaches, school systems throughout the United States are planning for in-person and hybrid learning next fall. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Congress has appropriated $190 billion to assist those efforts; the recent American Rescue Plan Act alone provides around $122 billion for PK-12 public education.