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Vibrant Environment

Putting the Shine on Corporate Sustainability: Lisa Jackson receives ELI’s 2018 Environmental Achievement Award

By Laura Frederick, Grants & Development Writer
Monday, November 5, 2018

The Environmental Law Institute’s 2018 Award Dinner was a star-studded event. Nearly 750 environmental leaders from across multiple sectors—one of the highest attendances in ELI Dinner history—arrived at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., to hear remarks from this year’s distinguished honoree, Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Apple’s Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives and former U.S. EPA Administrator.

The Rise of Climate Change Adaptation Law

By Sofia Yazykova, Staff Attorney
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

As the effects of climate change become more prominent, countries in various parts of the world begin to consider ways to incorporate climate change adaptation into their legal frameworks. Unlike provisions related to climate change mitigation, which usually set requirements for greenhouse gas emissions, statutory provisions addressing climate change adaptation can be wide-ranging and intricate.

“Every Culture Has a Science”: An Introduction to Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Indigenous Scientific Representation

By Hannah Dale, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, October 29, 2018

In the Alaskan Arctic, Inupiat hunt bearded seals for food and blubber—a tradition spanning generations, and based on hunters’ extensive knowledge of the weather, ice, seal habitats, and how to prepare and pay respects to the animal after killing it. But over the past few generations, their ability to harvest seals has been significantly affected with the warming oceans, melting ice, and changing patterns of marine animals in the Bering Sea. Last spring, hunters in Unalakleet, Alaska, could not participate in the harvest because there was little ice cover. Since seals use ice pans as a place to rest above water, reduced ice cover impedes hunters’ ability to find and hunt the animals. Inupiat worry about what these environmental changes will mean for future generations.

ESA and CITES: Avenues for the Future of Species Conservation and Legislation

By Hannah Dale, Research & Publications Intern
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) are seminal pieces of legislation that have governed species conservation in the United States for over 40 years. The ESA dictates a regulatory framework for identifying and protecting threatened species and provides funding and incentives to states to reach this goal. CITES is an international agreement signed by 183 nations that seeks to regulate and restrict the international trade of endangered wildlife. The adoption of this agreement gives party states some authority over species conservation in other parts of the world. The ESA acknowledges and works to cooperate with international species conservation policies like CITES, and it even includes provisions for executing CITES policies. Together, CITES and the ESA operate at state, national, and international scales, making use of agency, intergovernmental, and nonprofit partnerships to work toward species conservation.

Eye in the Sky

By Ryan Belyea, Program Manager, AECOM
Monday, October 22, 2018

The usefulness of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) as an emergency response tool has received abundant public attention through intense media coverage of recent hurricane impacts and their aftermath. The dramatic imagery captured by UAS in the wake of Hurricanes Florence and Michael exemplifies how effective these devices are in capturing images and information from hard-to-reach or dangerous areas that are inaccessible to ground personnel. These situations make it important to understand the rules and regulations for operating a UAS, especially in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Unauthorized use of UAS in these areas may hinder search and recovery efforts and should be avoided in these areas. Operating a safe UAS program offers the benefit of instant visualization and mapping to a wide variety of response efforts.

Trotting Toward Trouble: The State of the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program

By Caroline McHugh, Law Clerk
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Picture the American West.

What do you see? Does a herd of wild mustangs galloping across a sagebrush expanse come to mind? For many, romantic images of the western landscape celebrated in popular culture symbolize American ideals of rugged individualism and freedom. Although first introduced to North America by European colonists, wild horses came to represent those important American themes in our images of the West. Now, the iconic symbols pose a threat to western ecosystems.

The Impact of Justice Kennedy’s Retirement on Environmental Law: An ELR Dialogue

Monday, October 15, 2018

The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy this past July is arguably a pivotal point for U.S. Supreme Court decisions on environmental law. Justice Kennedy was a crucial swing vote on a variety of environmental issues still relevant today, particularly cases involving regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and the reach of the Clean Water Act. His vote in the 5-4 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA upheld EPA’s power to limit greenhouse gas emissions. In Rapanos v. United States, Justice Kennedy’s controlling opinion held that a wetland falls within the scope of the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction if it bears a “significant nexus” to a traditional navigable waterway.

Environmental Justice in the 21st Century: Toxic Waste and Race

By Lovinia Reynolds , Research Associate
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Over 30 years ago, Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States confirmed that race was the primary factor in determining the location of siting toxic wastes. Published by the United Church of Christ, the report’s release set in motion a movement addressing environmental health and social justice now known as environmental justice (EJ). In the decades to follow, EJ became institutionalized in our government agencies with the formation of the Environmental Equity Working Group at EPA in 1990 and Executive Order No. 12898 signed in 1994. Outside of government, the report catalyzed the formation of grassroots groups to address issues of environment health in their communities. The EJ movement also reorients the mainstream definition of environment. It frames the environment as not simply the woods, mountains, and ocean, but as our neighborhoods, our workplaces, and our homes.

Welcome, Mayor—Now Here Comes the Hurricane

By Sam Koenig, Research Associate
Monday, October 8, 2018

What would you do if your job was to manage a small coastal community besieged by job loss, irate voters, hurricanes, oil spills, and hipsters? Here’s a way to find out: boot up your laptop or tablet and check out ELI’s new “serious game,” Digital Cards Against Calamity.

In the wake of Hurricanes Maria, Irma, Harvey, and Florence, which have resulted in an estimated total of over 3,200 deaths and more than $375 billion in damage, finding ways to increase a community’s “resilience IQ” should be a national priority.

A Time to Pivot, Reset, and Recommit to Core Principles

EPA logo
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

These past months have been turbulent times for my old agency, EPA. Shortly before this writing, Scott Pruitt resigned in a cloud of allegations about ethical and judgment lapses, proving once again that, in Washington, D.C., process fouls are often more undoing than policy choices. And, of course, if your policy choices are provocative, all the greater the need to, as my mother would say, “Keep your nose clean,” as the sharp knives will no doubt be out, ready to slice and dice if the opportunity is presented.