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Vibrant Environment

Taking Innovative Environmental Law and Policy Proposals From Academia to Practitioners and Policymakers

2018 Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review
By Linda Breggin, Senior Attorney, and John Hare-Grogg, Research Associate
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Some of the smartest people in our law school classes became law professors. But, chances are you don’t know much, if anything, about their academic work. Busy policymakers and legal practitioners simply don’t have the time to read long, heavily footnoted law review articles. Yet, buried in those dense law review articles can be important new and creative law and policy proposals. All too often, however, academics talk about those ideas among themselves, and their proposals are not informed by policymakers, let alone adopted in the law and policy arena.

Fishing For Opportunity: A Perspective on Vietnamese Community Engagement in Gulf Restoration (Why I Participate in Gulf Restoration)

Danny Le and family
By Azi Akpan, Research Associate
Monday, May 14, 2018

This conversation with Danny Le, BPSOS, is part of the ELI Gulf of Mexico team’s “Why I Participate in Gulf Restoration” blog series. The series aims to highlight the views of community members impacted by the BP oil spill, and provide a glimpse of some challenges and successes they face in getting involved in the restoration processes.

ELI Supports Judiciary of Indonesia in Sound Adjudication of Environmental Cases

Smoke rising from Indonesia due to illegal burning of peatlands (NASA/GSFC)
By Christina Libre , Research Associate, and Alejandra Rabasa, Senior Attorney; Director, Judicial Education Program
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

This summer, ELI’s Judicial Program, in collaboration with the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) and experts from other corners of the globe, will host a week-long, capacity-building workshop to support members of the Indonesian judiciary in soundly adjudicating cases related to the degradation of natural resources. The project is funded by the Swedish Postcode Foundation, an innovative organization dedicated to seeking long-term solutions to local and global challenges.

Infrastructure Review and Permitting: Is Change in the Wind?

Devil’s Elbow Bridge in Waynesville, MO (Photo: Chuck Coker)
By Serena Choi, Research and Publications Intern
Monday, May 7, 2018

On February 12, 2018, following President Donald Trump’s announcement to rebuild the nation’s “crumbling” infrastructure in his first State of Union address, the White House submitted to Congress the Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America, a legislative roadmap on the Administration’s ambitious $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan.

Recycling Household Waste: A Ten-Year Report

In this month's ELR, Viscusi et. al examine household recycling behavior
Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Recycling is perhaps the most prevalent pro-environmental activity at the household level. Household recycling efforts may be influenced by supportive nudges and, in some cases, laws that mandate recycling behavior. But unlike efforts such as decreasing household energy usage, success in recycling also hinges on governmental support: there must be some mechanism for collecting the recycled materials and converting them into useable commodities. Government entities, and in some cases private waste collection firms, provide for these recycling amenities.

Environmental Justice Panel Spotlights Women Activists and Scholars

Environmental Justice Panel
By Lovinia Reynolds , Research Associate
Monday, April 30, 2018

On Monday, April 16, ELI, the Environmental Justice Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice (CRSJ), Georgetown University Law Center, Georgetown Environmental Law Society, and the D.C. Bar Association hosted a seminar entitled: Environmental Justice in the 21st Century Part 2: Threats and Opportunities. The event focused on changes and challenges in the environmental justice movement and featured a panel of environmental justice experts and a keynote speech from Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Cal.). Representative Ruiz, a medical doctor from Coachella Valley, California, delivered a passionate speech describing the struggles facing communities of color in his district who are often disenfranchised from the environmental decisionmaking process. His bill, the Environmental Justice Act of 2017 (H.R. 4114), the companion to Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) bill introduced in the Senate (S. 1996), aims to empower communities to have meaningful input into environmental decisions.

Everglades Author Would Back Kids

Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a prominent environmental activist.
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The survivors of the horrible massacre at the high school in Parkland, Florida, have created a national movement in favor of measures to reduce gun violence. Firearms kill roughly as many Americans as does pollution and thus represent an equivalent threat to public health.

MethaneSAT: Monitoring Methane Emissions From Space

The Environmental Defense Fund's MethaneSAT Satellite (Photo: EDF)
By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, April 23, 2018

On April 11, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) President Fred Krupp announced the organization’s plans to create and launch a new satellite to monitor and measure global methane emissions—from space. The "groundbreaking" MethaneSAT plans were unveiled in a TED talk in Vancouver, B.C. The satellite will measure only emissions of methane, the powerful greenhouse gas responsible for roughly one quarter of the man-made global warming we currently experience. 

Water Efficiency and Conservation: The State of the States

2017 Water Efficiency and Conservation State Scorecard
By Adam Schempp, Senior Attorney; Director, Western Water Program
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Most states have significant room to improve their legal frameworks regarding water conservation and efficiency, and long-term resiliency, according to a report released last month by ELI and the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE). In the 2017 Water Efficiency and Conservation State Scorecard, a five-year update to the 2012 scorecard, each state received two separate grades: one for water use efficiency and conservation, and one for climate resiliency planning. The national average for both is a “C,” but with some great grades in each area and more than half of the states earning higher water use efficiency and conservation scores than they did in 2012.

Fossil Fuel Swap: New Study Shows ‘Overlooked’ Benefits of Switching From Coal to Gas

Deeside Power Station - a natural gas station in Wales, U.K. (Wikimedia Commons)
By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, April 16, 2018

In 2016, the United Kingdom (U.K.) had an “unprecedented drop” in its carbon emissions, reducing emissions from production of electricity by 25%. The U.K. achieved this reduction by switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation—leading to a carbon reduction equivalent to removing over 30% of Britain’s cars from the road. A recent report published in Nature Energy by researchers at two U.K. institutions, the University of Sheffield and Imperial College London, considers the “enabling conditions in Great Britain and the potential for rapid fuel switching in other coal-reliant countries.”