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Vibrant Environment

Trips to the Biotech Frontier: Episode 2

By Kashaf Momin, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, April 22, 2019

If you read Episode 1 of Trips to the Biotech Frontier, you know that biotechnology has far-reaching applications beyond genetically modified crops. But even within the food and agriculture industry, the industry is seeing the use of biotechnology in ways we may never imagined. In this episode, we will explore some of these new and emerging applications in food.

Rule of Law in Climate Response and Energy Transformation

By Amy L. Edwards, Partner, Holland & Knight, LLP
Friday, April 19, 2019

When I was a child, my father would repeatedly remind me (and my siblings) to “turn off the lights—money doesn’t grow on trees”. Was it because he was concerned about the environment? No, not really—it was because we were relatively poor. But I am pretty good now about remembering to turn off the lights (and I get pretty annoyed when others don’t—especially when the lights are “supposed” to go off automatically but don’t).

Now, as the current chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER), I have the ability and privilege to oversee many exciting initiatives. 

Rethinking “Compliance”: Lessons Learned From the First INECE Compliance Conversations

By Taylor Lilley, Public Interest Law Fellow, Avital Li, Research Associate, and Jessica Foster, Research & Publications Intern
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Lack of access to safe wastewater management infrastructure and improved sanitation is a global challenge that affects over 2 billion people worldwide. While large-scale wastewater treatment plants are common throughout the world, off-grid communities that exist outside of areas covered by centralized water infrastructure are often geographically isolated or economically marginalized, making these services not only unaffordable but inaccessible. In the absence of these networks, many communities have chosen to adapt. Although it is typically considered to be unlawful or illegitimate by their national governments, communities have begun to build decentralized systems to treat and reuse wastewater for agricultural purposes.

From Linear to Circular: Tackling Sustainability Challenges Through Full Life-Cycle Thinking

By Isabelle Smith, Law Clerk
Monday, April 15, 2019

March 16, 2019; a young whale is found washed up on a beach in the Philippines. Autopsy reveals the whale died from “gastric shock” after ingesting 40kg of plastic rubbish including plastic bags and other disposable plastic products. Three weeks later, a pregnant sperm whale is found dead on a beach in Sardinia, Italy, more than two-thirds of her stomach filled with plastic waste.

These whales are the latest casualties of a growing worldwide plastic pollution problem.

States Taking the Lead on Developing Clean Energy Policies

By Carrie Jenks, Senior VP, M.J. Bradley & Associates
Friday, April 12, 2019

States are continuing to make significant commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Though the federal government is looking to roll back federal GHG reduction programs, states have a long history of taking the lead to design policies that meet their citizens’ environmental, health, and economic objectives and often look to build upon other states’ successes.

Harmful Algae Blooms in Coastal Waters: Removing Toxic Algae From Florida’s Waterways

By Dan Levy, Vice President, AECOM
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Widespread harmful algae bloom (HAB) outbreaks have profound negative impacts: threats to human health and safety, stress on ecological systems, diminished quality of life, and significant economic loss to water-based recreational and commercial activities. They occur due to decades worth of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient runoff deposited into our freshwater lakes and water bodies. Now, excess nutrient runoff and human activity have contributed to an uncontrollable rise in HABs across the globe. This ongoing accumulation of nutrients into our shrinking freshwater supplies combined with warmer temperatures has turned these precious water bodies into petri dishes for harmful algae growth. Removing the overabundance of nutrients is essential to restoring these water bodies and preventing the growth of future HABs.

Changing Flood Insurance for a Changing Climate

Monday, April 8, 2019

The current flooding disasters in the Midwest, as well as the flooding consequences of Hurricanes Michael, Harvey, Irma, and Maria, have damaged thousands of U.S. homes and businesses over the last decade. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), enacted by Congress in 1968, aims to minimize the risk of flood damage as well as reduce flood-related disaster recovery costs. This federally backed program provides insurance to property owners and renters, establishes building and land use requirements and floodplain management practices for local communities to qualify, and maps flood-risk areas to inform development decisions and insurance premiums. But the NFIP assumes that flood risks are static and change little over time, and the effects of climate change are challenging this assumption.

Environmental Justice and the Fight to Be Heard

By Kieren Rudge, Research & Publications Intern
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Many nationally recognized environmental groups have adopted principles of equity and diversity into their missions over the past two decades, but the environmental justice movement and the marginalized groups that have historically driven the movement are often left out of the “mainstream” environmental discussion. Groups that lack political power such as people of color, people with disabilities, people of low income, the LGBTQ community, and women are often ignored by those with more social influence. Progress has certainly been made in recent years, but more opportunities exist to connect national-scale nonprofits to the groups who face the disproportionate effects of environmental degradation. This issue is highly important because the effects of environmental detriment disproportionally impact these minority groups, and is still a reality that many of these communities face every day. As such, it is essential to recognize that marginalized communities have had a significant impact on environmental policy, and it is imperative to continue to fight for more equitable conditions.

Earlier Laws Had Lessons for Clean Air Act

By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Monday, April 1, 2019

It was a half century ago that the federal government for the first time went to court “to close down a plant for polluting the air.” The quote is from the February 8, 1969, edition of the New York Times. The facility at issue was a chicken rendering plant in Bishop, Maryland, whose emissions were wafting into neighboring Delaware, thus allowing newly installed Attorney General John Mitchell — who would go on to play a major role in the Watergate scandal — to initiate the history-making suit.

Re-Imagining Environmental Governance: The Future of Environmental Law

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By Robert (Buzz) Hines, Partner, Farella Braun + Martel LLP
Friday, March 29, 2019

Not to dwell on the past, but I have been struck of late reading obituaries of certain leading figures in environmental law by a recurrent theme, which is essentially captured by the following quote: “This was an old-school environmentalist, when Republicans and Democrats all agreed the environment should be protected.”