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Vibrant Environment

COVID-19 and the Future of Environmental Law

face mask
By Akielly Hu, Research Associate
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered profound changes to our everyday lives and economy that will have both immediate and long-term impacts on environmental law. In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, Arden Rowell explores the implications of these changes for environmental law, and argues that grappling with them as the pandemic progresses may help lawmakers develop more effective strategies for environmental regulation.

Citizen Science: Concepts and Applications

globe
By Celine Yang, Research and Publications Intern, ELI
Friday, November 13, 2020

The first session of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) six-part citizen science webinar series explored the current and potential uses of citizen/community science initiatives to improve environmental monitoring, compliance, and enforcement around the world. Citizen science encompasses a broad range of activities, ranging from the use of low-cost hand-held air monitors by individuals to sophisticated, university-based monitoring networks and satellite monitoring plans by large environmental NGOs. These activities can raise awareness of environmental issues, inform agency actions including compliance and enforcement programs, and inform citizen litigation to stop polluting activities.

A Deeper Dive Into Protections for Deep-Sea Mining

jellyfish
By Kristine Perry, Staff Attorney
Monday, November 9, 2020

For the past few decades, it has seemed as if deep-sea mining was going to happen any minute. Or any year. The world is much closer to deep-sea mining than it was before, but that doesn’t mean countries, companies, or technology are any more ready to take on the challenge and unexpected impacts of this largely unknown area.

Beyond Greenwashing: Paths Toward Sustainability in the Fashion Industry (Part 2)

towels
By Amy Liang, Development Intern, ELI
Monday, November 2, 2020

Part 1 of this blog presented the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry, and argued for structural changes to address sustainability beyond greenwashing. Part 2 presents potential paths toward sustainability in the fashion industry.

 

Beyond Greenwashing: Paths Toward Sustainability in the Fashion Industry (Part 1)

fashion
By Amy Liang, Development Intern, ELI
Friday, October 30, 2020

The fashion industry is thirsty. Every year, it consumes 93 billion cubic meters of water—enough for the survival of over 5 million people. The problems within the fashion industry go beyond water use. Due to the rise in fast fashion, global clothing production has exponentially increased, doubling between 2000 and 2014. Fashion is now the second-most polluting industry worldwide.

Improving Indoor Air Quality in Schools During the Pandemic . . . and Beyond

school
By Tobie Bernstein, Senior Attorney; Director, Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Program
Thursday, October 22, 2020

The novel coronavirus has focused public attention on the indoor environment as never before. Even though most people in the United States spent the large majority of their time indoors before the pandemic, COVID-19 has increased awareness of the connection between indoor air quality and health. In addition to cleaning and disinfecting, technical topics such as building ventilation and filtration are now the subject of articles in popular media, not to mention conversations around the (virtual) water cooler and the school listserv.

Heading Down Different Paths: An Update on PFAS Regulatory Developments in Northeastern States and at the Federal Level

water
By David McSweeney, Counsel, Hunton Andrews Kurth, Gregory Wall, Counsel, Hunton Andrews Kurth, and Michael Altieri, Senior Attorney, Hunton Andrews Kurth
Monday, October 19, 2020

In May 2016, EPA issued a lifetime Health Advisory (HA) of 70 parts per trillion (0.07 ug/L) for the combination of two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals, PFOS and PFOA, in drinking water. EPA’s HA is not enforceable or regulatory—it provides technical information to state agencies and other public health officials on health effects, analytical methodologies, and treatment technologies associated with drinking water contamination. In EPA’s subsequent 2019 PFAS Action Plan, EPA noted that over 4,000 PFAS may have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the world since they were first synthesized in the 1940s. Because PFAS are water soluble, over time PFAS from firefighting foam, manufacturing sites, landfills, spills, air deposition from factories and other releases can seep into surface soils and potentially percolate into groundwater, thus implicating drinking water sources. 

Remembering Justice Ginsburg, An Environmental Champion

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The untimely death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a sharp setback for environ­mental protection law. The Court loses the justice who had been the most sympathetic to environ­mental concerns during her more than 27 years on the highest court of the land. Her greatest achieve­ment on behalf of the environment was her majority opinion in 2000 in Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw En­vironmental Services. This decision slammed the brakes on Justice An­tonin Scalia’s long-time campaign to deny environmentalists standing to sue.

Discounting Benefits of Saving Human Life

money
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler proudly details the administration’s deregulatory record in a Newsweek opinion article published in late July. He frames his success story within President Trump’s January 2017 executive order requiring agencies to eliminate two regulations for each new one. While Wheeler touts the avoided costs, he doesn’t mention the avoided benefits the repealed rules would have provided.

Still Much We Do Not Know: Climate Uncertainty and Adaptive Management in the Gulf of Mexico

hurricane
By Dominic Scicchitano, Research Associate
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported in August that this year’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone was unexpectedly small—in fact, the third-smallest ever measure in the 34-year record. Interestingly, this comes just two months after NOAA had forecasted a larger-than-average dead zone in early June. The cause of this shift appears to be Hurricane Hanna, whose large, powerful waves agitated the water column, disrupting algal accumulation in the Gulf.

All blog posts are the opinion of its author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of ELI the organization or its members.