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Vibrant Environment

Environmental Justice Faces Fresh Obstacles

Forest
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

As the country wrestles with racial justice issues, driven both by police atrocities and the uneven distribution of COVID-19 infection and deaths, it’s time for renewed focus on environmental justice. The quest for EJ remains perhaps the most challenging unsolved problem in the environmental arena. And until we arrive at a place where environmental benefits and burdens are both more equally distributed across society, EJ will remain a problem that differentially compromises not only quality of life, but also health and resilience in the face of maladies like the coronavirus.

What Did CEQ Do?

White House
By James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney; Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program
Monday, September 14, 2020

Acting in response to Executive Order No. 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) rewrote the governmentwide regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) this year. CEQ published its proposal to substantially amend the NEPA rule on January 10, 2020, and published its final rule on July 16, 2020 (85 Fed. Reg. 43304). The new rule becomes effective today, September 14, 2020, and CEQ added language to the final rule to provide that it will apply directly to federal agency actions and preempt all “inconsistent” agency procedures as of that date.

A Road Map to Net-Zero? BLM’s Authority to Mitigate Climate Change on Public Lands

Public land
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Almost one-quarter of all U.S. CO2 emissions come from fossil fuels extracted from public lands. Producing more than 274 million barrels of oil, 3.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas, and 302 million tons of coal each year, BLM’s management decisions have a significant impact on climate change. In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, authors Jamie Gibbs Pleune, John Ruple, and Nada Wolff Culver argue that the Bureau has not only the authority, but a legal duty to mitigate climate change in its permitting decisions. Using existing legal structures, they provide a road map for requiring all new BLM oil and gas development to achieve net-zero emissions.

The Trade of Bats: Current Issues and Potential Solutions

Bat
By Laura Cadot, Research and Publications Intern, ELI
Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The trade of bats is an issue that has been brought to the forefront during COVID-19, a zoonotic disease outbreak that likely originated in wildlife trade and may even be linked to bats. However, we still lack sufficient understanding of the issues involved with bat trade at both the national and international levels.

Forests of the Tide: Mangrove Trees, Blue Carbon Sequestration, and the Need for Mangrove Policy and Protection in Indonesia

By Lauren Gode, Research and Publications Intern
Thursday, August 27, 2020

From land, the small, shrub-like mangrove trees that line tropical coastlines appear rather ordinary—a closer look, however, tells a completely different story. Hidden underwater, mangrove trees have spindly roots overflowing with marine biodiversity. These roots allow mangroves to survive in brackish coastal waters, an environment most trees could never tolerate. Just like their peculiar beauty, mangroves’ importance in the global carbon cycle is also widely overlooked. Mangroves are critical blue carbon sequesters, storing thousands of tons of carbon dioxide in their oxygen-poor soil.

E-Waste Management in Taiwan: A Replicable Model for the United States?

E-waste
By Paloma Quiroga, Research and Publications Intern
Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Among the dizzying array of commercials and advertisements we see every day, a new electronic product seems to join the lineup every other month. Almost like clockwork, for example, Apple releases its newest edition of the iPhone early in the fall. The company generates worldwide anticipation for the new model, with people frantically pre-ordering and lining up hours in advance to purchase a phone they only plan to use until the following year, when Apple will once again release a newer, sleeker generation of the iPhone.

COVID-19 Reveals Environmental Justice Gaps in National Environmental Policy

Air quality
By Ananya Bhattacharya, Research and Publications Intern, ELI
Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Numerous studies have shown that Black and Latinx communities in the United States face higher hospitalization and mortality rates from COVID-19 and are disproportionately harmed by the virus. While many cite comorbidities and underlying health issues as the reasons for this disparity, the root of this problem is systemic racism. Recent research has found that social determinants like access to healthcare, employment, and clean air and water are the true inequities that have made COVID-19 deadliest for communities of color.

ELPAR 2020: Opportunities and Challenges for FERC to Price Carbon Emissions

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Electricity generation, one of the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions, rarely accounts for the social cost of damages caused by carbon dioxide emissions. Embedding these costs into market rates is one way to address the pressing need for decarbonization. In this year’s Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review (ELPAR), a special issue of The Environmental Law Reporter, authors Bethany Davis Noll and Burcin Unel argue that addressing the price of emissions falls within the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The authors examine how imposing a cost on carbon aligns with FERC’s main goal of ensuring just and reasonable rates, and they explore opportunities and limits for FERC’s authority.

Bioremediation: The Power of Biotech for Greening Contaminated Site Cleanups

By Margaret Badding , Research and Publications Intern, ELI
Monday, August 10, 2020

Though the remediation of Superfund and brownfield sites protects the environment by removing harmful contaminants, the cleanup process itself can produce a significant environmental footprint. Remediation often involves technologies and heavy-duty construction equipment that is powered by fossil fuels and emits air pollution. How can we reduce the environmental footprint of the remediation process at these contaminated sites?

Regulating PFAS at the Federal Level: Deriving Policy Options for the U.S. from Existing EU Regulations (Part 2)

By Mahima Chaudhary, Research and Publications Intern, ELI
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

In Part One of this blog, I discussed the negative impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and the lack of regulation in the United States as compared to the European Union (EU). This second part proposes three policy options for the U.S. government to consider: (1) regulating the production of PFAS; (2) limiting the ingestion of PFAS through drinking water; and (3) providing funding for federal cleanup of PFAS-contaminated sites.

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