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Vibrant Environment

Trade, Tourism, and Trophies—The Elephant in the Room

By John Cruden, Principal, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., Catherine Novelli , President, Listening for America, and Dan Ashe, President, Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Friday, August 30, 2019

Elephants are amazing animals and perhaps our most enduring mental image of Africa—large, untamed, inexhaustible. That image can also distract us from the unpleasant historical and current realities of colonization and exploitation of Africa and Africans, including African elephants. Evidence of this is like air, it’s all around us. So, like air, it goes unseen, like the fresco above the south entrance to the Federal Trade Commission building, here in Washington, D.C., portraying an obviously western man, extending a money bag to an apparently African man, who is on bended knee and holding an ivory tusk.

Single-Use Plastic Bans Bring Unintended Consequences for People Experiencing Homelessness and Developing Countries

By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Wednesday, August 28, 2019

First plastic bags, then straws, and now . . . miniature toiletries.

In a world where half the plastic produced globally is packaging we use just once, and only nine percent of all plastic is recycled, a consumer tide against single-use plastics is sweeping up grocery retailers, restaurants, and now the hospitality industry.

Trichloroethylene, Vapor Intrusion, and Indoor Air

By Bart Eklund, Vice President and Director, Air Quality Practice, AECOM
Monday, August 26, 2019

I’ve conducted research on global climate change and on nuclear waste disposal, but vapor intrusion (VI) is the most challenging topic I’ve worked on during my 40-year career. VI’s technical challenges relate to its multimedia nature and the need to understand pollutant fate and transport both above and below ground.

Environmental Law Is On the Move

By David J. Hayes, Executive director, State Energy & Environmental Impact Center, New York University School of Law
Friday, August 23, 2019

50-year celebrations typically feature nostalgic reminiscings about a great run, as with golden wedding anniversaries, or a gauzy look back at a humble beginning for a now-mature organization.

The Environmental Law Institute’s 50th year celebration is different.

Spotlight on Judicial Training: Science in the Courts

By Helena Kilburn, Educational Programming Intern, and Anna Beeman, Research Associate
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Judges rely on precedential case law and legal interpretation in issuing their decisions, but with an increasing number of court cases relying on scientific evidence, judges must also understand the science to ensure a sound judicial process. Accurately deciding such cases not only determines the case at hand, but could set the precedent for similar cases in the future.

New U.S. EPA Rule Change Would Inhibit Citizens From Filing Environmental Claims

By Shehla Chowdhury, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, August 19, 2019

Last month, the New York Times reported that the Trump Administration began drafting a new rule that could eviscerate one of the most powerful tools available to U.S. citizens to hold the government accountable for environmental harm. The new rule, if finalized, would prevent concerned citizens from filing cases with the U.S. EPA Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), as well as inherently change EPA’s appeals process and undermine enforcement of environmental law throughout the country.

How I Met ELI: A First Date That Worked

By Ridgway M. Hall, Jr., Vice Chair, Chesapeake Legal Alliance
Friday, August 16, 2019

In 1974, I was a trial lawyer with Cummings & Lockwood in Stamford, Connecticut, with a lifelong interest in the environment. EPA had been recently created, Congress had just passed two new laws to protect air and water quality, and President Kennedy had made service in the federal government a noble calling.

Transboundary Haze in Southeast Asia: The 2015 Fires Were Only the Beginning

By Anna Beeman, Research Associate
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

In the last two weeks, Indonesian islands Sumatra and Borneo began experiencing severe forest fires, evoking fears within the region that the fires could have similar effects to the fires of 2015, which was one of the worst years for transboundary haze in Southeast Asia. Following the 2015 fires, Indonesia took steps to limit the burning and draining of peatland to reduce the outbreak of fires in addition to improving environmental sustainability and air quality in the region. However, due to a combination of governance challenges and climate change-intensifying dry seasons, the country has struggled to keep up with implementing fire mitigating activities in all fire-prone areas.

What Lies Beyond the Beach? Diving into Our Nation’s Ocean

By Margaret Spring, Chief Conservation & Science Officer, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Hilary Tompkins, Partner, Hogan Lovells
Monday, August 12, 2019

With summer in full swing and trips to the beach on our minds, the timing is perfect to consider the role of environmental law and the courts in guiding decisions with implications for the health of our oceans. This blog highlights recent updates from two major federal players with authority over what happens in the waters of the United States covering the three- to 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ): the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI).

The Courts and the Rule of Law: Primary Forces in Advancing Environmental Protection

By Karin P. Sheldon, President, Four Echoes Strategies
Friday, August 9, 2019

Fifty years ago, on June 22, 1969, the Cuyahoga River of Ohio burst into flame. Although it was not the first time an oil slick burned on the heavily polluted river, the event is often credited as one of the key environmental crises that galvanized the American public to recognize that pollution and other environmental damage were not just local problems, but required national attention.