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Vibrant Environment

FOOD WASTE: Onsite Food Waste Pre-processing Systems: Is Recycling Really Happening?

By Taz [CC BY 2.0 (http:/creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia C
By Christopher Wright, Research and Publications Intern, and Carol Adaire Jones, Visiting Scholar
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Recycling food waste through composting and anaerobic digestion has the greatest potential by far to reduce the quantity of food waste going to landfills over the next 15 years relative to food waste reduction and reuse, according to ReFED. However, as more cities and states institute landfill food waste bans and other programs to promote recycling, the demand for centralized organic processing facilities is outpacing the supply. To address the gap, vendors are actively marketing to commercial customers new onsite pre-processing systems, including dehydrators, pulpers, and biodigesters. The systems can save money by reducing or eliminating off-site hauling of food waste and are well suited to facilities short on space and staff time. But the question arises: are the nutrients and energy in food waste really being recycled?  The answer depends upon the next stage of processing.

Trumping Environmental Protection

EPA and Donald Trump
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, May 22, 2017

The Trump Administration is clearly hungry for regulatory reform that reduces the cost and process burden of environmental regulation. Those who see a fundamental conflict between environmental protection and economic development welcome this development, as do those concerned that environmental requirements have become so extensive, detailed, and layered as to make compliance an elusive pursuit. Conversely, the shift raises concerns for those who see environmental protection and economic development as fully compatible goals and who fear environmental backsliding.  

TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT: Protecting the Environment in the Context of International Trade

Container Ship
By Greta Swanson, Visiting Attorney
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Although making no specific commitments, the Trump Administration continues to propose the potential renegotiation of NAFTA. House Democrats, in a Resolution earlier this spring, and a group of 15 environment, labor, and human rights groups, in an Eight-Point Plan, have called for a renegotiation of NAFTA that ensures that regulations protecting the environment are maintained.

In an earlier blog post, I discussed how environmental protection provisions incorporated in trade agreements could help mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of (international) trade. This post explores the inverse topic: how the investment chapters in NAFTA (and other trade agreements) may affect environmental and social protections in parties’ domestic regulation.

A Win for Kids and the Environment in China

Playground in Lanzhou, China, Sigismund von Dobschütz
By Zhuoshi Liu, Staff Attorney
Monday, May 15, 2017

Since the early 2000s, many Chinese schools and kindergartens have built synthetic running tracks on their campuses. However, many of these schools and kindergartens are underfunded and consequently tend to award contracts to the lowest bidders, often at a cost to the environment and human health.

This Month in ELR - The State of Environmental Justice: An Obama Administration Retrospective

Nuclear power plant, Tihange
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pres. Barack Obama made a number of promises related to environmental justice when he hit the 2008 campaign trail: he said he would strengthen the EPA Office of Environmental Justice, expand the environmental justice small grants program, and empower minority communities to respond to health threats. For the most part, he delivered.

The Great Gobs of Good Green News

Illuminated fluorescent bulb, Jdorwin
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Monday, May 8, 2017

Never in my nearly thirty years as an environmental journalist have I seen such doom and gloom. And that era has seen a lot of doom and gloom, starting with the worldwide drought that made “Planet of the Year” in Time magazine in 1988 and continuing through predictions of global Armageddon from industrial pollutants and the dregs of an advanced society.

Helping Communities Pursue Water-Neutral Growth

Public water supply sign, Walter Baxter
By Adam Schempp, Senior Attorney; Director, Western Water Program
Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Water is fundamental to life, but it is not always bountiful. Many communities around the country already face water scarcity issues, whether such scarcity is due to a history of shortages, a present crisis, or growing concerns over the longevity of supplies. Accommodating population growth, and realizing the benefits from new development, only adds to the challenge in water-stressed areas.

Represent a Wildlife Whistleblower: Announcing the NWC’s Wildlife Whistleblower Attorney Referral Service

Confiscated Wildlife Products at JFK Airport, Steve Hillebrand
By Meera Gajjar, Staff Attorney, National Whistleblower Center
Monday, May 1, 2017

It’s time to take the fight against wildlife trafficking from the jungles to the judges. The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) recently launched its Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program, and it is now seeking attorneys who are ready to join the vanguard by representing wildlife whistleblowers. This means helping whistleblowers develop effective reports and qualify for rewards under U.S. laws.

Climate Change: An Inside Story

Yellow house
By Tobie Bernstein, Senior Attorney; Director, Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Program
Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Communities throughout the United States are experiencing a variety of conditions associated with a changing climate—hotter summers and heat waves, droughts, intense storms and flooding, increased average precipitation and humidity, and more severe wildfires. Alongside potentially far-reaching environmental and economic impacts, these conditions have direct and indirect effects on human health. In recent years, scientists have begun to shed light on important climate-related health effects that occur indoors, where people spend the vast majority of their time.

Floodplain Buyouts: From the Archives and for the Future

Usk floodplain, Caerleon, Jaggery
By Nora Moraga-Lewy, Research Associate
Monday, April 24, 2017

With all the national-level news surrounding the new administration’s approach to environmental protections, it can be easy to lose track of the important roles that state and local governments have in pushing forward plans and policies for environmental protection and resilient communities. Working on ELI and UNC’s floodplain buyouts project and stumbling upon a book from the ELI archives refreshed my excitement and understanding of the various levels on which we can push for environmental action.