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Vibrant Environment

NEPA Reform: Perspectives on Streamlined Schedules, Less Expensive Processes, and More Concise Documents

Infrastructure
By Brian W. Boose, CEP, Associate Vice President, AECOM, and Brian P. Kennedy, AICP, Senior Project Manager, AECOM
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

On May 10, 2018, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and the law firm Arnold and Porter hosted a day-long conference in Washington, D.C., entitled Infrastructure Review and Permitting: Is Change in the Wind? Alex Hergott, Associate Director for Infrastructure for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), provided the afternoon keynote. He asked the distinguished audience whether any of us thought that the NEPA process, and specifically the environmental impact statement (EIS) process, couldn’t be delivered faster, at lower cost, and with fewer pages of documentation, without forsaking environmental protections. He went on to provide many good points and examples in support of answering his own question. His sentiment was echoed by the 30+ speakers at the event who also touched on the “streamlining” challenge. And most experts and professionals agree that the current EIS process takes too long, costs too much, and often produces indigestible, cumbersome, and lengthy documentation. While there has been an increased focus on the initiative to streamline NEPA under the Trump Administration, NEPA practitioners have grappled with this issue for years.

Congressional Conference on the Farm Bill: What is at Stake for Food Waste?

Capitol Building
By Ian Hardman, Research & Publications Intern, and Carol Adaire Jones, Visiting Scholar
Monday, August 13, 2018

With the U.S. Senate voting on July 31 to join the House of Representatives in conference on their respective Farm Bills, the two houses face major challenges to resolve the wide gaps in many elements. Reauthorized every 5 years or so, the Farm Bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that affects all facets of the American food supply. We highlight the gaps between the House and Senate bills in new and continuing provisions promoting the reduction of wasted food, the reuse of edible food, and recycling of food waste. Representing a mere rounding error in the budget, they have been understandably overshadowed by the conflicts over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which dominates the budget.

Arctic Tourism in the Age of Climate Change

Arctic
By Avital Li, Research Associate
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

As pristine landscapes become a relic of the past, the icy tundras and taigas of the Arctic polar regions are becoming prized destinations for high-end adventure travelers who want to see the region before it’s gone forever. The perverse consequence of this kind of “last-chance” tourism in the Arctic is that, done carelessly, it will almost certainly accelerate the destruction and damage of the precise attractions that it so fetishizes, people and landscapes included.

Mississippi Meetup: ELI in the Gulf

Turkey Creek, MS
By Amy Streitwieser, Staff Attorney
Monday, August 6, 2018

Last month, fellow ELI Gulf Team member Teresa Chan and I travelled to Mississippi to attend two public events hosted by the Deepwater Horizon natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) trustees: a community education workshop in Gulfport, and the Trustee Council’s annual public meeting in Long Beach.

Environmental Regulation That Even a Conservative Would Like?

Portland, Oregon
By Linda Breggin, Senior Attorney
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Every year, the Environmental Law Institute in collaboration with Vanderbilt Law School publishes a special issue of the Environmental Law Reporter’s News & Analysis. The issue contains condensed versions of articles selected by Vanderbilt law students, in consultation with an expert Advisory Committee, ELI senior staff, and their professors, because they offer some of the year’s best legal and policy solutions to pressing environmental problems.  

The EPA Pith and the Law Pendulum

William Ruckelshaus is sworn in as administrator of the new Environmental Protec
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Monday, July 30, 2018

I met William D. Ruckelshaus a year after the Saturday Night Massacre, and 18 months after he left the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as its founding administrator. I was a reporter for the Daily Princetonian, and he was on campus to give a talk. I recognized that here was a true American hero. Nine years later, Ruckelshaus would return to EPA for more heroics: restoring the Agency to its original sense of idealism and high purpose.

An Endangering Act? Proposed Regulatory Changes to the Endangered Species Act

Wolf
By Lovinia Reynolds , Research Associate
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

On July 19, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their highly anticipated proposed changes to the rules implementing the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Enacted in 1973, the ESA is credited with saving iconic American species like the bald eagle and the grizzly bear. It is one of the hallmark pieces of legislation of the early environmental movement and the legislation for species conservation in the United States. While the public generally supports the Act, the ESA is notoriously controversial for corporations and agribusiness. Industries such as oil and gas, land development, and mining criticize the ESA as a costly barrier to project development. Supporters of the ESA highlight its role in preventing the extinction of species that are crucial to U.S. ecosystems.

Justice Kennedy’s Retirement and the Future of Environmental Law

Justice Anthony Kennedy
By Hunter Leigh Jones, Associate Editor, ELR
Monday, July 23, 2018

On June 27, 2018, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he will retire from the U.S. Supreme Court on July 31, 2018. Kennedy, who was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan and confirmed in 1988, became a crucial swing vote on a variety of environmental issues during his tenure. On July 11, 2018, ELI hosted John Cruden, John Elwood, and Richard Lazarus at a Breaking News webinar to explore the influence Kennedy has had on environmental law and to discuss the implications of his retirement from the Court for the future of environmental law.

Managing EHS Compliance Through Chaos and Disruption

Walt Disney business envelope, circa 1921
By Kristin Morico, EHS Management Strategic Executive Director, AECOM
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

I’ve witnessed some tumultuous times throughout my professional journey, which has mostly involved the industrial sector. The current global political climate, industry takeovers, mergers, and portfolio rationalization, as well as companies vying over a competitive talent pool of leaders, has resulted in a fair amount of distraction and turbulence across all industry functions, including Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS). Observing these circumstances, how does an organization proactively manage EHS compliance? Below, I share some thoughts I’ve gathered over the years.

Sea-Level Rise and Climate Migration: The Story of Kiribati

Fanning Island, Kiribati, by RomonaMona (Pixabay)
By Samantha Goins, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, July 16, 2018

Most people probably haven’t heard of Anote Tong, the former president of Kiribati, but he is somewhat of a celebrity in the international climate sphere. His ideas were radical and often subject to criticism, even within his own nation. Yet, radical action may be the very thing that Kiribati, and so many other island nations, require.