As AI Proliferates, Environmental Protection Hopes and Fears Rise
Solar Panels
Wednesday, October 20, 2021

In recent years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications have rapidly become more sophisticated and widespread, “even as legal and regulatory frameworks struggle to keep up.” Moreover, AI’s often-overlooked environmental implications are simultaneously “sweeping and quite complicated,” and for all of its promise to help improve the environment, AI could in fact cause environmental harm. With those framing remarks, Andrew Tutt, a Senior Associate with the law firm Arnold & Porter, opened a February 18 webinar on “Environmental Applications & Implications of Artificial Intelligence,” the third in ELI’s GreenTech series running through 2021.

Personal Care Products: The Health Risks, Disproportionate Impacts, and Outdated Legislation of the Cosmetics Industry
Eye Shadow Makeup
Monday, October 18, 2021

What products did you use this morning as you got ready for your day? Shampoo? Soap? Deodorant? Makeup? Likely at least one of these, along with other personal care products. The Environmental Working Group found that women in the United States use an average of 12 personal care products each day, and men an average of six. And, while many of the chemicals in these products likely pose minimal risk, some chemicals found in personal care products have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and other health problems. Further, women of color face disproportionate impacts. On average, women of color use more beauty products than white women, and the beauty products they use disproportionately expose them to hazardous ingredients.

Natural Resources in Outer Space
Asteroid
Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Renewed interest in outer space has brought new sources of investment and technology. Last year witnessed 110 orbital launches, tied for the highest annual number since the early 2000s. Increased activity in outer space will accelerate potential environmental effects; for instance, space mining could lead to natural resources being extracted from the moon, Mars and other planets, and asteroids. The primary environmental issues include debris, pollution of earth’s atmosphere, and biological or nuclear contamination.

In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, Scot W. Anderson, Julia La Manna, and Korey J. Christensen discuss the legal framework surrounding development of natural resources in outer space. The authors provide an overview of space mining regulations generally, and examine regulatory efforts to mitigate environmental issues.

Protecting Future Generations: A Global Survey of Legal Academics and Implications for Climate Change Law
Mountain Landscape
Monday, October 11, 2021

A recent study by Eric Martinez and Christoph Winter surveyed over 500 legal academics regarding how and to what degree the law can protect future generations. Here, I discuss some of the authors’ findings and the implications for using law to take action against climate change.

The survey asked legal academics for their views on legal protection of future generations and other groups, which groups could be granted legal standing, the ability of law to influence the long-term future, and specific areas of law and sources of risk. Climate change and environmental law were featured in several questions, as both are commonly associated with future generations and the long-term future. This can be seen, for example, in the rise of environmental constitutionalism, scholarship on representing future people in climate governance and intergenerational justice, as well as a rapid increase in climate litigation, with global cases nearly doubling from 2017 to 2020.

Incorporating Environmental Justice Into Hazard Mitigation Plans
River Flood
Monday, October 4, 2021

Despite popular belief, natural hazards are not “great equalizers.” Environmental burdens fall disproportionately on marginalized groups. These inequities stem from legacies of racial injustice and systemic income disparities that have caused certain neighborhoods to have both poor infrastructure and limited access to financial resources, creating greater threats from hazard-related damage and difficulty with recovery efforts.

Climate Action Strategy Workshops and the Need for More Language Accessibility
Spanish Spoken Here Sign
Monday, September 27, 2021

This summer, the Miami-Dade County’s Office of Resilience conducted a series of workshops inviting the community’s input into the drafting of the county’s climate action strategy plan. These workshops were held to offer community members the opportunity to comment on local policy measures as well as shape the direction of current and future policymaking by offering suggestions and ideas. Rather than simply checking off boxes for expectations of citizen engagement by local government, the stated goal of these workshops is to produce an accessible avenue for community members from all identities, especially those that have historically faced discrimination, to take the lead on local climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. In accomplishing this goal, language accessibility is a key consideration to ensure effective citizen engagement and maximized impact.

Protecting the Planet by Protecting Intellectual Property—A Clear Connection
Supreme Court Building
Monday, September 20, 2021

Environmental lawyers “don’t know a lot about intellectual property,” but IP is “about promoting and protecting ideas that we’re depending on to protect our planet,” said Brad Marten, Managing Partner of Marten Law LLP and moderator of the Environmental Law Institute’s fifth GreenTech webinar held May 13. Consequently, in 2021, IP and environmental law “couldn’t be more related” as the world looks to electric vehicles, clean energy, and other technological innovations to advance sustainability, Marten added.

Charting a Course to Net Zero: Louisiana Seeks Comment on Draft Climate Documents
Wind Turbines
Wednesday, September 15, 2021

In Louisiana and elsewhere around the United States, climate change is a common topic of conversation these days. With record heat, drought, wildfires, hurricanes, and flooding, this summer has brought home the reality of climate impacts, and revealed the country’s general lack of preparedness for this new normal. As evidenced by Hurricane Ida, Louisianans are increasingly facing serious consequences resulting from more extreme weather events and sea-level rise. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra summed things up in his recent remarks establishing a new Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, “Louisiana is being pummeled.”

Six Priority Recommendations for Improving Conservation Under the ESA
Tiger
Wednesday, September 8, 2021

In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, Alejandro Camacho, Melissa Kelly, and Ya Wei-Li discuss challenges to effective implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and present concrete recommendations to improve the Act. The authors distilled these recommendations from workshops that featured a variety of perspectives across the conservation community.

New Model Policy Bolsters Compost Use and Infrastructure
Compost
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

A new model compost procurement policy developed by the Environmental Law Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council could help municipalities around the country in their efforts to divert food scraps and other organic materials from their landfills and incinerators and, in so doing, realize myriad economic and environmental benefits.