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Vibrant Environment

ESA Implementing Regulations Revised & Released

By Barbara D. Craig, Partner, Stoel Rives LLP, and Cherise M. Gaffney, Partner, Stoel Rives LLP
Monday, September 16, 2019

On August 12, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (together the “Services”) jointly announced final revisions to their regulations for listing and delisting species, making critical habitat designations, and undertaking consultations with federal agencies under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The final rules are here. These rules become effective 30 days from publication.

Data and Information Technology for the Environment: The Earth’s Environment Needs the Best Tools Too

By Wayne S. Balta, Vice President, Corporate Environmental Affairs & Product Safety, IBM Corporation
Friday, September 13, 2019

Our world is flooded with data, and the amount of data continues to increase exponentially. In a prior era, data primarily meant numbers. They were rather orderly, and they would typically be presented in a relatively structured way. That’s not the case today, however.

Bearing Witness: The Environmental Law Institute at Age 50

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

In the 1960s, a time of extreme air and water pollution across America, governments manifestly were failing to sustain a healthy environment. The conservation victories of the late 19th century and of the Progressive era in the 1920s had proven to be necessary but not sufficient. In April of 1965, the Conservation Foundation (CF) scoped out the growing threats to the North American environment with a conference at Airlie House just outside of Washington, D.C. Clearly, policies and laws were lacking.

Federalism as a Zero-Sum Game?

Monday, September 9, 2019

In recent years, “competitive federalism” between U.S. states and the federal government has spread to encompass environmental regulation. After EPA issued the Clean Power Plan in 2015, more than one-half of the states filed lawsuits alleging that EPA’s plan encroached upon state authority to determine energy policy. Between 2009 and 2017, Texas alone sued the Obama Administration at least 48 times, many of those suits over EPA action regarding air and water quality standards. While the pollution control laws passed in the 1970s were founded upon “cooperative federalism,” competitive federalism has resulted in a zero-sum rhetoric that pits environmental protection against economic growth.

In Search of "Bricklayers": Building and Reinforcing the Foundations of Private-Sector Sustainability

By Alan B. Horowitz, Principal and Managing Director, Trusted Companies LLC
Wednesday, September 4, 2019

I have a confession: I can’t stand the “what’s your occupation” question—credit card applications, cocktail parties, whatever. I find it limiting and often irrelevant. Truth be told, I haven’t known how to answer the question for years. “Environmental, Health, and Safety Executive?” “Sustainability Leader?” “ESG Champion?” The reality is that my default answer has become “recovering environmental lawyer” but I worry that’s insensitive . . . !

Trade, Tourism, and Trophies—The Elephant in the Room

By John Cruden, Principal, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., Catherine Novelli , President, Listening for America, and Dan Ashe, President, Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Friday, August 30, 2019

Elephants are amazing animals and perhaps our most enduring mental image of Africa—large, untamed, inexhaustible. That image can also distract us from the unpleasant historical and current realities of colonization and exploitation of Africa and Africans, including African elephants. Evidence of this is like air, it’s all around us. So, like air, it goes unseen, like the fresco above the south entrance to the Federal Trade Commission building, here in Washington, D.C., portraying an obviously western man, extending a money bag to an apparently African man, who is on bended knee and holding an ivory tusk.

Single-Use Plastic Bans Bring Unintended Consequences for People Experiencing Homelessness and Developing Countries

By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Wednesday, August 28, 2019

First plastic bags, then straws, and now . . . miniature toiletries.

In a world where half the plastic produced globally is packaging we use just once, and only nine percent of all plastic is recycled, a consumer tide against single-use plastics is sweeping up grocery retailers, restaurants, and now the hospitality industry.

Trichloroethylene, Vapor Intrusion, and Indoor Air

By Bart Eklund, Vice President and Director, Air Quality Practice, AECOM
Monday, August 26, 2019

I’ve conducted research on global climate change and on nuclear waste disposal, but vapor intrusion (VI) is the most challenging topic I’ve worked on during my 40-year career. VI’s technical challenges relate to its multimedia nature and the need to understand pollutant fate and transport both above and below ground.

Environmental Law Is On the Move

By David J. Hayes, Executive director, State Energy & Environmental Impact Center, New York University School of Law
Friday, August 23, 2019

50-year celebrations typically feature nostalgic reminiscings about a great run, as with golden wedding anniversaries, or a gauzy look back at a humble beginning for a now-mature organization.

The Environmental Law Institute’s 50th year celebration is different.

Spotlight on Judicial Training: Science in the Courts

By Helena Kilburn, Educational Programming Intern, and Anna Beeman, Research Associate
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Judges rely on precedential case law and legal interpretation in issuing their decisions, but with an increasing number of court cases relying on scientific evidence, judges must also understand the science to ensure a sound judicial process. Accurately deciding such cases not only determines the case at hand, but could set the precedent for similar cases in the future.