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Vibrant Environment

Houston After Harvey: Building Resilience, or Business as Usual?

Buffalo Bayou Park (Nora M.L.)
By Nora Moraga-Lewy, Research Associate
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Houston’s 160-acre Buffalo Bayou Park was designed to flood. The park is lined with native vegetation and landscaped to channel runoff and maximize floodwater transport capacity. Dog-walkers, joggers, bikers, and picnickers frequent the park, which also serves as habitat for native plant and animal species and has features that help filter pollutants from stormwater runoff that would otherwise flow directly into the waterway.

Budget Reconciliation: Taxes and a Wildlife Refuge on the Chopping Block

The Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (US FWS)
By Patricia J. Beneke, Visiting Scholar
Monday, November 13, 2017

Many of the provisions in the tax legislation being considered by Congress this month (H.R. 1 “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” and related Senate legislation) as part of the Budget Reconciliation process are getting substantial attention: the reduction in corporate tax rates, elimination of the estate tax, consolidation of individual income tax brackets, elimination of medical and state and local tax deductions, and modification of the mortgage interest deduction. However, one key matter in the package is only now beginning to receive notable public attention: the long and hard-fought legislation to open the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Arctic Refuge) to oil and gas leasing and development.

Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade: Many Targets, But No Silver Bullets

African elephant in Botswana (Sponchia / Pixabay).
By John Hare-Grogg, Research Associate, Benjamin Solomon-Schwartz, Public Interest Law Fellow, and Carl Bruch, Senior Attorney; Director, International Programs
Wednesday, November 8, 2017

International illegal wildlife trade (IWT) threatens global biodiversity, imperils certain charismatic species, and fuels organized crime. Wildlife trafficking is the world’s fourth most lucrative crime, after only the trafficking of drugs, humans, and arms. Approximately 350 million plants and animals are sold on the black market every year, with an estimated value of between US $7 billion and $23 billion.

Achim Steiner Receives ELI’s Environmental Achievement Award

Achim Steiner
By Laura Frederick, Grants & Development Writer
Monday, November 6, 2017

On October 18th, the Environmental Law Institute hosted its annual ELI Award Dinner. Affectionately known as the “environmental law prom,” over 650 of the best and brightest environmental professionals from across the country descended upon Washington, D.C., to connect with colleagues and honor this year’s winner of the ELI Environmental Achievement Award.

Scott Pruitt’s EPA: “Back to Basics” or Slash and Burn?

Scott Pruitt (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s “back to basics” agenda for the Agency suggests a renewed focus on the fundamentals of environmental protection. But according to a new article in the November 2017 issue of the Environmental Law Reporter, “Pruitt is not preserving the ‘basics’ of our environmental protection system, but deconstructing them.”

Haunted by Dead Electronics? Don’t Let E-Waste Laws Scare You!

E-Waste (Wikimedia Commons)
By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney
Monday, October 30, 2017

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the fastest-growing segment of the municipal waste stream. Nearly 100% is recyclable, and valuable materials like plastics, metals, and glass can be recovered. E-waste also can contain toxic materials, like lead, mercury, and arsenic. Worldwide, up to 50 million tons of e-waste is expected to be dumped in 2017. Yet, in the United States, less than 30 percent is recycled.

Courts Side With Developers in Pair of Dakota Access Pipeline Cases

DAPL
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

As reported in the Environmental Law Reporter’s Weekly Update this month, two cases involving the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline have been decided in the courts.

Chief among those cases was Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. Dakota Access. In that case, a district court held that the Dakota Access pipeline could continue to operate while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers corrects deficiencies in its environmental assessment for the project.

2nd Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law Convenes in Santiago, Chile

The 2nd Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law was held in San
By Alejandra Rabasa, Senior Attorney; Director, Judicial Education Program
Monday, October 23, 2017

On September 4-6, the Organization of American States (OAS), UN Environment, the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment (GJIE), the World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), the Supreme Court of Chile, and other partners convened the 2nd Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law in Santiago, Chile. 

This Ain’t Normal: Calculating the Social Costs of Carbon

Hurricane Harvey, as viewed from space (Photo: NOAA).
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

While EPA under Administrator Scott Pruitt seeks to drastically reduce the social cost of carbon (SCC), insurers already know that 2017 delivered the most expensive Atlantic hurricane season ever for insurance companies. Beyond this year, since the 1980s, the annual average losses to insurers have risen, increasing over the last decade from $10 billion to about $50 billion. “Insurers are rightfully worried that, in the long term, climate change could devastate their industry,” reported the Los Angeles Times. While Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico  flood, EPA recalculates, and insurance companies add up their costs.

The Endangered Species Act: Are State Backstops Sufficient?

State laws may be insufficient to implement the federal Endangered Species Act.
Monday, October 16, 2017

The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) enjoys considerable popular support and provides enormous ecological and other benefits beyond the protection of particular species. Yet the Act is not without its skeptics—longstanding calls to overhaul the Act have only gained traction in the 115th U.S. Congress and new Donald Trump Administration.