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Vibrant Environment

Federal Court Applies Environmental Justice

Photo by Caitlin Morris.
By James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney; Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, explicitly relied on environmental justice (EJ) concepts to vacate and remand a Virginia state air pollution permit for a compressor facility associated with an interstate natural gas pipeline. This is one of only a very few federal court decisions to address EJ expressly, and is noteworthy because of its explicit application of EJ elements.

Sinking Politics and Climate Migrants: Legal Opportunities for the United States (Part 2)

By Jessica Oo, Research & Publications Intern
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

In the past, some domestic and international attempts to alleviate the burdens of migrant populations and establish legal protections for them have been implemented, but many of these protections are not specific enough and lack legally binding measures adequate to ensure that peoples displaced by weather-related disasters are protected on a global scale. International norms are important, as they can at least symbolically set a standard that national governments can follow.

Sinking Politics and Climate Migrants: Legal Opportunities for the United States (Part 1)

By Jessica Oo, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, December 16, 2019

Countries around the world are slowly sinking and the list of vulnerable communities is only getting longer. According to the International Displacement Monitoring Center, 28 million people in 2018 were displaced from their homes due to regional conflict, violence, and environmental disasters.

Environmental Justice in Your City

By Lovinia Reynolds , Policy Analyst and Environmental Justice Coordinator
Wednesday, December 11, 2019

For decades, environmental justice advocates have imagined and advanced a vision of environmental governance that protects the most vulnerable communities from harmful pollutants and negative health impacts. Addressing environmental injustice in the diverse contexts of communities around the United States has resulted in a myriad of policy tools and programs for achieving environmental justice at all levels of government. While environmental injustice has global prevalence, environmental injustices are at their core local issues with a local solution space.

Wildfire Liability, Environmental Justice, and Climate Change

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

As climate change worsens, so does the risk of wildfires. This is especially so in the western United States, as seen all too well in California in recent weeks. Adding fuel to the fire are the increasing number of homes built near areas prone to wildfires, the wildland-urban interface (WUI), which increases the risk to people and their homes, makes wildfires harder to control, and prohibits fires from being allowed to burn naturally.

Bouncing Back From Bonnet Carré: What Is Next for Impacted Fisheries?

By Anna Beeman, Research Associate
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Gulf Coast region historically is known for producing more seafood than anywhere else in the continental U.S., both in volume and dollar value. However, since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010, fishing communities along the coast who depend upon healthy and vibrant marine habitats have experienced significant financial instability.

Climate Gentrification and Resilience Planning: What Is at Stake for At-Risk Communities?

By Anna Beeman, Research Associate
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

It is estimated that over 800 million people will be at risk from the impacts of rising sea levels by 2050, concentrated among 570 coastal cities across the world. Some of these cities have already started to experience the impacts of sea-level rise and storm surges, which has catalyzed efforts by governments and individuals to begin preparing for more projected effects.

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

By Cynthia R. 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.

New U.S. EPA Rule Change Would Inhibit Citizens From Filing Environmental Claims

By Shehla Chowdhury, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, August 19, 2019

Last month, the New York Times reported that the Trump Administration began drafting a new rule that could eviscerate one of the most powerful tools available to U.S. citizens to hold the government accountable for environmental harm. The new rule, if finalized, would prevent concerned citizens from filing cases with the U.S. EPA Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), as well as inherently change EPA’s appeals process and undermine enforcement of environmental law throughout the country.

Transboundary Haze in Southeast Asia: The 2015 Fires Were Only the Beginning

By Anna Beeman, Research Associate
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

In the last two weeks, Indonesian islands Sumatra and Borneo began experiencing severe forest fires, evoking fears within the region that the fires could have similar effects to the fires of 2015, which was one of the worst years for transboundary haze in Southeast Asia. Following the 2015 fires, Indonesia took steps to limit the burning and draining of peatland to reduce the outbreak of fires in addition to improving environmental sustainability and air quality in the region. However, due to a combination of governance challenges and climate change-intensifying dry seasons, the country has struggled to keep up with implementing fire mitigating activities in all fire-prone areas.