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Vibrant Environment

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 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.

Companies and Communities: Environmental Justice as an Effective and Proactive Business Practice

By Benjamin F. Wilson, Chairman, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C, Washington, DC
Friday, August 2, 2019

In recent months, the long-standing environmental justice (EJ) movement—which began with the civil rights movement—has gained new momentum. EJ refers to the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” As natural disasters ravage minority, low-income communities, global climate justice campaigns demand equitable solutions, and members of Congress underscore the importance of ensuring environmental protection for our most vulnerable communities, EJ principles are given a leading role in the conversation about environmental policy.

A City Under Siege: Unraveling the Glaring Link Between Environmental Degradation and Sociopolitical Turbulence

By Anthony D'Souza, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, July 29, 2019

Much of the media concerning climate change have direly emphasized that its most horrendous effects will be borne by some of the world’s most impoverished developing cities, with coastal settlements on the front lines of this siege. Yet, most of these headline-grabbing pieces rarely explore the true complexity of these issues beyond mere sea-level rise and a few other similarly visible or tangible environmental problems. This blog aims to briefly outline the deeper extent of crises threatening these cities by further examining an experience of one particular city. A city where the ravages of global warming are more than just dire warnings—but a clear and present burden on its overwhelmingly underprivileged citizens every day. A city that offers perhaps one of the most holistic case studies to examine the entangled causality between environmental and social issues wrought by climate change. My hometown, Karachi, Pakistan.

Bridging the Gulf: Environmental Justice and Spill Restoration

By Taylor Lilley, Public Interest Law Fellow, and Lovinia Reynolds , Policy Analyst and Environmental Justice Coordinator
Wednesday, July 24, 2019

In honor of the Environmental Law Institute’s 50th Anniversary Year, each month of 2019 highlights a different key theme that represents an important aspect of our work. July is focused on environmental justice, a movement and a concept that encompasses efforts to highlight the disproportionately harmful environmental impacts experienced by vulnerable communities, as well as a commitment to ensuring justice for all people. The growing effort to identify environmental justice concerns and to develop solutions for communities closely aligns with ELI’s mission to make law work for people, places, and the planet, including through our work in the Gulf of Mexico region.

California DTSC's Efforts to Address the Segregation of Pollution

By Davina Pujari, Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP, and Cole A. Benbow, Associate, Hanson Bridgett LLP
Friday, July 19, 2019

The mission of California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is to "protect California's people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances by restoring contaminated resources, enforcing hazardous waste laws, reducing hazardous waste generation, and encouraging the manufacture of chemically safer products." But, like any critical mission, its success depends on sufficient funding. And, to the detriment of the vulnerable communities it is charged with protecting, the Department is in the midst of dealing with a budget shortfall that will handicap its ability to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated in California—hazardous waste that disproportionately impacts low-income and minority communities.