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Vibrant Environment

Strategizing Against the Flame: What’s Next for California’s Wildfires?

By Helena Kilburn, Educational Programming Intern
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The 2018 wildfire season in California has been the state’s deadliest on record, and the 10 most deadly fires in California’s history occurred in the last four years. In a deviation from historic records, documentation of these recent fires show that their occurrence has become nearly year-round rather than seasonal. These fires pose extreme threats to 25 million acres of California’s wildlands, as well as to the 11 million people who live within the threatened area. In addition to intensifying climate change, faulty equipment and electric transmission from utility companies have contributed to the increase in wildfires in these high-risk regions. However, taking full monetary responsibility for these fires can lead to near or certain bankruptcy for the utility companies.

On the 20th Anniversary of Climate Change Law, Where Do We Go From Here?

Friday, May 31, 2019

Any self-respecting environmental lawyer knows, 2019 marks a major anniversary for environmental law: the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969. While we note the anniversary today, I doubt onlookers in Cleveland appreciated at the time that it would give rise to a five-decade era of environmental lawmaking.

Toward Citizen Science Policy Outcomes

By Kasantha Moodley , Manager, Innovation and Governance, and George Wyeth , Visiting Scholar
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

In ways that did not exist even ten years ago, everyday people are acting as scientists: contributing their time and data to make notable discoveries, answer lingering questions, and develop awareness. Motivated by technology innovations, public concern, and limited institutional capacity, citizen science is gently reshaping the conventional systems that address human health and environmental protection.

Of Walls . . . and Windows

By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

“For everything there is a season,” says the old Pete Seeger song, quoting the much older still book of Ecclesiastes. It seems that we are currently in the season of walls. The physical manifestation of this particular period may be the issue of the wall on our southern border. But there are other walls, and some of them have law as their concrete or steel.

Climate Policy Past and Present: Designing the New Green Deal

Monday, May 6, 2019

Climate policy has again risen to the top of the national agenda. Although the current Administration has taken actions such as withdrawing from the Paris Agreement or relaxing regulations on vehicle and power plant emissions, members of Congress are formulating progressive proposals to mitigate climate change, and states have taken ambitious steps to reduce carbon emissions. A carbon tax proposal has gained traction among conservative think-tanks and politicians, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has formed a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and the Green New Deal has sparked a robust debate on pathways to a more sustainable future.

Tribal Regulation of Single-Use Plastics

By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Monday, April 29, 2019

The world is waking up to the growing problem of plastic waste contaminating our ocean and terrestrial environments. Local governments—lauded as laboratories of innovation—have begun enacting bans and fees on single-use plastics, reducing the amount entering the waste stream in the first place. Businesses are stepping up; national and multinational governance bodies are adopting laws cutting down on the manufacture and distribution of single-use plastics. In the United States, California, the District of ColumbiaHawaii, and Maine have initiated statewide restrictions, while Oregon and Washington are considering similar measures.

Youth Activism and Climate Change: A European Perspective

By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Following the recently granted extension, the United Kingdom (U.K.) will soon trigger Article 50, officially “Brexitting” from the European Union (EU), a decision that will fundamentally change the U.K. and the wider EU. Protesters—many of them young—have mobilized in London, in Westminster, and across the U.K. to express concern about how this move out of the EU will affect their future. Nearly 6 million people, dominated by young voices, have signed a petition to revoke Article 50. Similarly, students and youth worldwide have joined “climate strikes” in a unified call for concerted action on global climate change. Are these widespread protests a harbinger of social change and action on climate, driven by the younger generation?

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. 

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.