ELI Primary Menu

Skip to main content

Vibrant Environment

A “Sticky” Situation: Addressing PFAS Risk in Corporate Transactions

By Loyti Cheng, Co-head of the Environmental Practice Group and Counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and Michael Comstock, Associate, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Friday, May 3, 2019

PFAS is a catch-all term for the chemical compounds per- and polyfluoroalkyls (including PFOA, PFOS, and replacements such as GenX). Seemingly overnight, these substances have gone from something talked about mainly by environmental lawyers and advocates to something that the public is increasingly focused on. The reasons for this shift include EPA’s and the states’ move to regulate these substances, recent lawsuits targeting PFAS manufacturers, and a better understanding of the way these substances may persist in the environment and harm human health. Because the future costs and obligations regarding the cleanup of, and human exposure to, PFAS are uncertain and likely significant, they present a challenge for environmental attorneys and their clients when performing deal diligence and negotiating contracts.

Environmental Rule of Law

By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, May 1, 2019

I write this column on a plane returning from Beijing and an ELI convening called the China International Business Dialogue on Environmental Governance (CIBDEG).  This is an innovative project brought to ELI by Leadership Council member Paul Davies of Latham’s London office. The heart of the idea is for ELI and a Chinese partner entity (the Policy Research Center on Environment and Economy (PRCEE)) to broker a conversation between Chinese regulators and multinational companies that are either trying to make a go of it in China or deeply reliant on supply chains that originate in China. This is a project in which I am personally involved, mainly because of my relationships with Chinese regulators from my days doing international work at EPA. 

Tribal Regulation of Single-Use Plastics

By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Monday, April 29, 2019

The world is waking up to the growing problem of plastic waste contaminating our ocean and terrestrial environments. Local governments—lauded as laboratories of innovation—have begun enacting bans and fees on single-use plastics, reducing the amount entering the waste stream in the first place. Businesses are stepping up; national and multinational governance bodies are adopting laws cutting down on the manufacture and distribution of single-use plastics. In the United States, California, the District of ColumbiaHawaii, and Maine have initiated statewide restrictions, while Oregon and Washington are considering similar measures.

Youth Activism and Climate Change: A European Perspective

By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Following the recently granted extension, the United Kingdom (U.K.) will soon trigger Article 50, officially “Brexitting” from the European Union (EU), a decision that will fundamentally change the U.K. and the wider EU. Protesters—many of them young—have mobilized in London, in Westminster, and across the U.K. to express concern about how this move out of the EU will affect their future. Nearly 6 million people, dominated by young voices, have signed a petition to revoke Article 50. Similarly, students and youth worldwide have joined “climate strikes” in a unified call for concerted action on global climate change. Are these widespread protests a harbinger of social change and action on climate, driven by the younger generation?

Trips to the Biotech Frontier: Episode 2

By Kashaf Momin, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, April 22, 2019

If you read Episode 1 of Trips to the Biotech Frontier, you know that biotechnology has far-reaching applications beyond genetically modified crops. But even within the food and agriculture industry, the industry is seeing the use of biotechnology in ways we may never imagined. In this episode, we will explore some of these new and emerging applications in food.

Rule of Law in Climate Response and Energy Transformation

By Amy L. Edwards, Partner, Holland & Knight, LLP
Friday, April 19, 2019

When I was a child, my father would repeatedly remind me (and my siblings) to “turn off the lights—money doesn’t grow on trees”. Was it because he was concerned about the environment? No, not really—it was because we were relatively poor. But I am pretty good now about remembering to turn off the lights (and I get pretty annoyed when others don’t—especially when the lights are “supposed” to go off automatically but don’t).

Now, as the current chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER), I have the ability and privilege to oversee many exciting initiatives. 

Rethinking “Compliance”: Lessons Learned From the First INECE Compliance Conversations

By Taylor Lilley, Public Interest Law Fellow, Avital Li, Research Associate, and Jessica Foster, Research & Publications Intern
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Lack of access to safe wastewater management infrastructure and improved sanitation is a global challenge that affects over 2 billion people worldwide. While large-scale wastewater treatment plants are common throughout the world, off-grid communities that exist outside of areas covered by centralized water infrastructure are often geographically isolated or economically marginalized, making these services not only unaffordable but inaccessible. In the absence of these networks, many communities have chosen to adapt. Although it is typically considered to be unlawful or illegitimate by their national governments, communities have begun to build decentralized systems to treat and reuse wastewater for agricultural purposes.

From Linear to Circular: Tackling Sustainability Challenges Through Full Life-Cycle Thinking

By Isabelle Smith, Law Clerk
Monday, April 15, 2019

March 16, 2019; a young whale is found washed up on a beach in the Philippines. Autopsy reveals the whale died from “gastric shock” after ingesting 40kg of plastic rubbish including plastic bags and other disposable plastic products. Three weeks later, a pregnant sperm whale is found dead on a beach in Sardinia, Italy, more than two-thirds of her stomach filled with plastic waste.

These whales are the latest casualties of a growing worldwide plastic pollution problem.

States Taking the Lead on Developing Clean Energy Policies

By Carrie Jenks, Senior VP, M.J. Bradley & Associates
Friday, April 12, 2019

States are continuing to make significant commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Though the federal government is looking to roll back federal GHG reduction programs, states have a long history of taking the lead to design policies that meet their citizens’ environmental, health, and economic objectives and often look to build upon other states’ successes.

Harmful Algae Blooms in Coastal Waters: Removing Toxic Algae From Florida’s Waterways

By Dan Levy, Vice President, AECOM
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Widespread harmful algae bloom (HAB) outbreaks have profound negative impacts: threats to human health and safety, stress on ecological systems, diminished quality of life, and significant economic loss to water-based recreational and commercial activities. They occur due to decades worth of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient runoff deposited into our freshwater lakes and water bodies. Now, excess nutrient runoff and human activity have contributed to an uncontrollable rise in HABs across the globe. This ongoing accumulation of nutrients into our shrinking freshwater supplies combined with warmer temperatures has turned these precious water bodies into petri dishes for harmful algae growth. Removing the overabundance of nutrients is essential to restoring these water bodies and preventing the growth of future HABs.