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Vibrant Environment

Sediment Diversions: Big Projects Confront Land Loss in the Mississippi River Delta

By Dominic Scicchitano, Research Associate, and Jarryd Page, Public Interest Law Fellow
Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Mississippi River Delta and Louisiana coastline are disappearing. Since the late 1920s, efforts to control the Mississippi through levees and dams have impeded its natural ability to deposit sediment downstream, contributing to large-scale land loss. It’s estimated that Louisiana’s coastal parishes lost roughly two thousand square miles of land between 1932 and 2016. As rising seas driven by climate change threaten to further consume the Gulf coast, there is an imperative to address the growing problem of shrinking landmass. Confronting this threat with a sense of urgency will allow for preservation of Louisiana’s communities, economies, and cultural resources into the future.

Citizen Science and Environmental Agencies

Cover of Citizen Science Programs at Environmental Agencies report
By Kasantha Moodley , Manager, ELI Innovation Lab
Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Environmental agencies are increasingly transforming their approach to citizen science, from viewing it as a source of data primarily for education and awareness to a potential source of concrete value for their programs. Although this relationship has existed for some time, the emergence of new technologies, an increasingly aware public, and the rise of unexpected pollution events has reinvigorated the way agencies and the public work together.

Out With the Old, in With the New

Sunrise over wind mills
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, January 6, 2021

As we are moving from an aggressively deregulatory period to one in which regulation is more likely to be seen as important in advancing environmental policy, let’s take a quick look at what to anticipate from the three branches of the federal government.

Cutting the NEPA Rules’ Gordian Knot

Knotted rope
By James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney; Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program
Tuesday, December 22, 2020

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) administration is in a serious tangle, given new Trump Administration regulations, the long-standing procedures administered by scores of federal agencies, and inconsistent environmental review obligations depending on various dates. This knot, like the legendary knot of King Gordias, is not easily unraveled. But it is not impossible.

Advancing Human Rights-Based Approaches and Conflict Sensitivity in Forest Monitoring and Management

Tropical forest
By Emily Donegan, National Forest Monitoring, FAO, and Julian Fox, Team Leader, National Forest Monitoring, FAO
Monday, December 21, 2020

Harbouring the vast majority of life on Earth, forests are a vital natural resource that provide ecosystem services essential for life and livelihoods. Forests are sources of important raw materials such as timber, wood fuel, and non-timber-forest products. However, competition to access forests, like many natural resources, is often a motive for human conflict. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that in the last 60 years, at least 40 percent of all intrastate conflicts have had a link to natural resources.

EPA at Its 50th Anniversary: Remembering the Early Days

United States Capitol
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, December 16, 2020

In observing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 50th anniversary, I have a few early-days reflections. I had my first brush with EPA while in law school, when I drafted South Carolina’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Interim Status and Part B regulations. “Drafting” is somewhat generous, as my work was primarily cutting and pasting the EPA rules that were set up to apply in the absence of state program authorization and conforming them, and their corresponding preambles, to the South Carolina context. But it was a meaningful baptism into the complexity of EPA’s work within the labyrinth that is the Federal Register. In my last year of law school, I was accepted under the honors program at the U.S. Department of Justice, and was soon off to work as a trial attorney in their Environmental Enforcement Section. My primary client? EPA.

Reasserting Tribal Forest Management Under Good Neighbor Authority

Forest
By Cynthia R. Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Monday, December 14, 2020

Earlier this year, the Environmental Law Institute hosted a webinar on cultural fire management—just prior to yet another devastating fire season across the West Coast of the United States. The discussion highlighted the millennia of Indigenous peoples’ sustainable forest management practices, drawing a sharp contrast with the consequences of over a century of federal fire-suppression policy, now exacerbated by climate change. That discussion now prompts a deeper conversation about options available to Indigenous tribes for regaining their stewardship role over forest resources on their traditional lands.

Climate Justice and the Role of State Climate Litigation

Gavel
By Akielly Hu, Research Associate
Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The principles of climate justice state that those who are least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, both globally and in the United States, are the ones most affected by the adverse effects of climate change. In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, environmental justice pioneer Barry Hill examines a variety of legal doctrines that states can use to litigate fossil fuel companies to address climate injustices, using Rhode Island v. Chevron Corp. as a model.

"The Ultimate Eco-Catastrophe”

Atom
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The biggest machine ever built is run by a consortium of European governments called CERN. Its Large Hadron Collider accelerates heavy subatomic particles at near light speed around a circle 17 miles in circumference before smashing them together. Scientists then study the remains and obtain important clues about how the universe works.

COVID-19 and the Future of Environmental Law

face mask
By Akielly Hu, Research Associate
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered profound changes to our everyday lives and economy that will have both immediate and long-term impacts on environmental law. In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, Arden Rowell explores the implications of these changes for environmental law, and argues that grappling with them as the pandemic progresses may help lawmakers develop more effective strategies for environmental regulation.