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Vibrant Environment

Redeveloping Brownfields in Disadvantaged Communities Should Be the Least Controversial, Most Actionable Proposal in Biden’s Infrastructure Plan

Definitions of equity and justice
Monday, April 12, 2021

President Joseph Biden’s March 30 announcement to spend $2 trillion fighting climate change, decarbonizing the economy, and creating jobs did not lack detail—the White House “summary” ran 25 pages with 79 subheadings, each containing numerous subproposals. Among these big ideas about offshore wind development, digital grid infrastructure, and green job training programs is a proposal that could have come from any administration over the last five decades: redeveloping blighted industrial properties to improve outcomes for distressed, disadvantaged communities.

U.S. Whistleblower Law: A Key to Fighting International Fisheries Crime (Part One)

Fishing nets
By Maraya Best, Associate Attorney/Attorney-Advisor for International Human Rights, Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, and Kelsey Condon, Attorney-Advisor for Environmental Protection, Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Despite advances in environmental law in recent decades, issues with implementation and enforcement continue to impede environmental progress worldwide. This is especially true in the case of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Because IUU fishing is nomadic and international, detecting and penalizing perpetrators can be difficult, if not impossible. Organized, transnational groups are increasingly turning to illegal fishing, whether to produce income, fund their networks, or conceal trafficking of drugs and people on their ships. Government—such as through customs or ports—likewise plays a large role in facilitating and concealing these illegal activities.

The Climate Adaptation Agenda: Federal Pathways to Equipping Coastal Cities With Adaptive Infrastructure

Miami coastline
By Cora Martin, Research and Publications Intern, ELI
Monday, April 5, 2021

Around 40% of people in the United States live on the coast. This means over 127 million people live in regions where the future of public health and safety, housing and job security, and environmental stability is threatened by coastal impacts of climate change. According to the U.S. Global Change’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, coastal cities will likely face a number of climate-related challenges before the end of the century, including sea-level rise, which would threaten property and infrastructure, degrade important ecological systems, and exacerbate social inequalities.

Co-Digestion of Food Waste: A Triple Greenhouse Gas Solution

Aerial view of co-digesters
By Carol Adaire Jones, Visiting Scholar
Thursday, April 1, 2021

An estimated 35% of food that is produced is uneaten, with losses occurring along the supply chain from farms to consumers. The majority from non-industrial sources ends up decomposing in landfills, where it releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG). Recycling food waste through anaerobic digestion (AD), in which bacteria break down organic material in the absence of oxygen and create biogas, can create a triple-win for GHG mitigation. It reduces landfill methane emissions, creates renewable energy from the biogas, and sequesters carbon in soils through land application of biosolids-based soil nutrients and amendments. The wastewater sector, with substantial excess capacity in the anaerobic digesters it uses to process biosolids, can contribute substantially to this climate change solution.

How a “Space Station” Turned the Tide on Ocean Policy

Biosphere 2
By Akielly Hu, Associate Editor
Tuesday, March 30, 2021

When it comes to the climate crisis, some say we can innovate our way out. In his 1989 essay The End of Nature, the writer Bill McKibben mused: “We may well be able to create a world that can support our numbers and our habits, but it will be an artificial world — a space station.”

Toward a New Generation of Environmental Justice Policy

Black Lives Matter protest
By Akielly Hu, Associate Editor
Thursday, March 25, 2021

Environmental justice (EJ) in federal policy to date has mostly involved conducting more public participation—a “process without substance,” as EJ pioneer Charles Lee puts it. In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, Lee offers a road map for government agencies to effectively address EJ issues by developing an understanding of disproportionate impacts based on rigorous, holistic data, and operationalizing this analysis with a spectrum of policy actions.

The Future of Food: How Drones Seek to Revolutionize Agriculture

Drone flying over crop
By Zack Schiffer, Research and Publications Intern, ELI
Friday, March 19, 2021

The agricultural industry is developing fast. With new and emerging technologies on the rise, industrial agriculture continually strives to incorporate sustainability and efficiency into its operations. Although the industry produces significant pollutants, including animal waste, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and other agricultural inputs and byproducts, incorporating new technologies, such as drones, helps to mitigate the hazardous pollutants associated with industrial agriculture. In addition to mitigating environmental harm, incorporating sustainable technology into agricultural practices can improve water conservation and bolster efficiency.

Recent Policies Target PFAS Substances in Food Packaging

Carryout containers
By Tobie Bernstein, Senior Attorney; Director, Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Program, and Jessica Sugarman, Research Associate
Monday, March 15, 2021

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of toxic synthetic chemicals collectively known as PFAS, are all around us—in the environment and in our bodies. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, most people in the United States have PFAS in their blood. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to these “forever chemicals” can lead to a variety of adverse health effects, including increased cholesterol, pregnancy complications, and kidney and testicular cancers; recent studies also suggest that PFAS may reduce resistance to infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and may reduce antibody responses to vaccines.

Deepwater Horizon Aftermath: Chronic Medical Conditions Still At Issue in Federal Courts

Oil cleanup Deepwater Horizon
By Jarryd Page, Staff Attorney
Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico more than 10 years ago. Yet hundreds of individuals across the Gulf coast are still battling BP in court for damages related to a host of ailments arising from exposure to oil, dispersants, or both. A recent order out of the Northern District of Florida (N.D. Fla.) granting BP’s summary judgment motion as to one set of plaintiffs may be a sign of things to come. Regardless of this ruling, the sheer volume of these cases may occupy dockets for months or years.

Dancing with Elephants: Startup Entrepreneurs and Corporations Collaborate on Massive Clean Energy Innovation

Baby elephant
Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Until recently, environmental protection discussions have mainly centered on law and policy. But the rapid emergence of advanced technologies has opened opportunities for established corporations and innovative startup companies to partner and thereby play a vital role in shaping 21st century environmentalism. A panel of experts described the massive, elephantine opportunities during the Environmental Law Institute’s January 14 GreenTech webinar on “Liberating Digital Solutions for the Environment: Catalyzing New Ideas,” the second in an eight-part series launched November 17, 2020.

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