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Vibrant Environment

Oh, SNAP! D.C. Circuit Limits EPA’s Authority to Regulate HFCs

HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On August 8, 2017, the D.C. Circuit held in Mexichem Fluor, Inc. v. EPA, No. 15-1328 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 8, 2017), that EPA overstepped its authority under the CAA when it banned the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in products. HFCs were adopted as alternatives to ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) in the 1990s under the Montreal Protocol. Their adoption was encouraged through application of EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program, which was created to help implement U.S.

Going for Gold, and for Green: Olympics Offer Paris and Los Angeles the Chance to Showcase Environmental Leadership

Sustainability will be a key focus of the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles (Pho
By Emmett McKinney, Former Research Associate
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Paris and Los Angeles are set to host the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games, respectively. Hosting the games will offer these cities the chance to showcase not only their countries’ finest athletes, but also their technological innovation and cultural vibrancy. However, preparing for the Olympics also presents massive infrastructural, economic, and environmental challenges.

Climate Change Meets Green Infrastructure: Deploying New Stormwater Infrastructure Techniques Against Flooding and Water Quality Threats in the Chesapeake Watershed

A Maryland shoreline was designed for climate resilience (Photo: Will Parson).
By Cynthia R. Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Monday, August 28, 2017

Home to nearly 18 million people, the Chesapeake Bay region is expected to be hit hard by climate change-driven increases in sea level, flooding, and precipitation. Sea level is already rising in the region at a rate of 3.4 mm per year—double the worldwide average—negatively impacting peoples livelihoods, swallowing up land, damaging property, and threatening military readiness. Further inland, heavy rains will lead to more intense flooding, as seen last summer in Ellicott City, Maryland. Increased precipitation also means more polluted runoff will be carried into the Bay, which is already overwhelmed with excess amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

As Nations Shift Toward Low-Emission Vehicles, Roadblocks Remain

An electric car charges at a station in Newcastle, England (Photo: Wikimedia Com
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Monday, August 21, 2017

As reported previously in the Environmental Law Reporter's Weekly Update, several countries have expressed their desire to move away from vehicles powered by diesel and gas in recent months. Most recently, the British government committed to ban the sale of diesel and gas vehicles from 2040 to curb rising levels of nitrogen oxide.

Why IBM Stands Firm in Supporting the Paris Climate Agreement

Paris at sunset
By Wayne S. Balta, Vice President, Corporate Environmental Affairs & Product Safety, IBM Corporation
Thursday, June 1, 2017

IBM today is reaffirming its support for the Paris Climate Agreement and stating clearly how we will continue our decades-long work to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Our call for an international agreement on this issue is more than a decade old, and we first voiced our support for the Paris Agreement in 2015 when it was negotiated.

FOOD WASTE: Onsite Food Waste Pre-processing Systems: Is Recycling Really Happening?

By Taz [CC BY 2.0 (http:/creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia C
By Christopher Wright, Research and Publications Intern, and Carol Adaire Jones, Visiting Scholar
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Recycling food waste through composting and anaerobic digestion has the greatest potential by far to reduce the quantity of food waste going to landfills over the next 15 years relative to food waste reduction and reuse, according to ReFED. However, as more cities and states institute landfill food waste bans and other programs to promote recycling, the demand for centralized organic processing facilities is outpacing the supply. To address the gap, vendors are actively marketing to commercial customers new onsite pre-processing systems, including dehydrators, pulpers, and biodigesters. The systems can save money by reducing or eliminating off-site hauling of food waste and are well suited to facilities short on space and staff time. But the question arises: are the nutrients and energy in food waste really being recycled?  The answer depends upon the next stage of processing.

Trumping Environmental Protection

EPA and Donald Trump
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, May 22, 2017

The Trump Administration is clearly hungry for regulatory reform that reduces the cost and process burden of environmental regulation. Those who see a fundamental conflict between environmental protection and economic development welcome this development, as do those concerned that environmental requirements have become so extensive, detailed, and layered as to make compliance an elusive pursuit. Conversely, the shift raises concerns for those who see environmental protection and economic development as fully compatible goals and who fear environmental backsliding.  

TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT: Protecting the Environment in the Context of International Trade

Container Ship
By Greta Swanson, Visiting Attorney
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Although making no specific commitments, the Trump Administration continues to propose the potential renegotiation of NAFTA. House Democrats, in a Resolution earlier this spring, and a group of 15 environment, labor, and human rights groups, in an Eight-Point Plan, have called for a renegotiation of NAFTA that ensures that regulations protecting the environment are maintained.

In an earlier blog post, I discussed how environmental protection provisions incorporated in trade agreements could help mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of (international) trade. This post explores the inverse topic: how the investment chapters in NAFTA (and other trade agreements) may affect environmental and social protections in parties’ domestic regulation.

The Great Gobs of Good Green News

Illuminated fluorescent bulb, Jdorwin
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Monday, May 8, 2017

Never in my nearly thirty years as an environmental journalist have I seen such doom and gloom. And that era has seen a lot of doom and gloom, starting with the worldwide drought that made “Planet of the Year” in Time magazine in 1988 and continuing through predictions of global Armageddon from industrial pollutants and the dregs of an advanced society.

Climate Change: An Inside Story

Yellow house
By Tobie Bernstein, Senior Attorney; Director, Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Program
Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Communities throughout the United States are experiencing a variety of conditions associated with a changing climate—hotter summers and heat waves, droughts, intense storms and flooding, increased average precipitation and humidity, and more severe wildfires. Alongside potentially far-reaching environmental and economic impacts, these conditions have direct and indirect effects on human health. In recent years, scientists have begun to shed light on important climate-related health effects that occur indoors, where people spend the vast majority of their time.