ELI Primary Menu

Skip to main content

Vibrant Environment

Environmental Justice in the 21st Century: Toxic Waste and Race

By Lovinia Reynolds , Research Associate
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Over 30 years ago, Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States confirmed that race was the primary factor in determining the location of siting toxic wastes. Published by the United Church of Christ, the report’s release set in motion a movement addressing environmental health and social justice now known as environmental justice (EJ). In the decades to follow, EJ became institutionalized in our government agencies with the formation of the Environmental Equity Working Group at EPA in 1990 and Executive Order No. 12898 signed in 1994. Outside of government, the report catalyzed the formation of grassroots groups to address issues of environment health in their communities. The EJ movement also reorients the mainstream definition of environment. It frames the environment as not simply the woods, mountains, and ocean, but as our neighborhoods, our workplaces, and our homes.

Welcome, Mayor—Now Here Comes the Hurricane

By Sam Koenig, Research Associate
Monday, October 8, 2018

What would you do if your job was to manage a small coastal community besieged by job loss, irate voters, hurricanes, oil spills, and hipsters? Here’s a way to find out: boot up your laptop or tablet and check out ELI’s new “serious game,” Digital Cards Against Calamity.

In the wake of Hurricanes Maria, Irma, Harvey, and Florence, which have resulted in an estimated total of over 3,200 deaths and more than $375 billion in damage, finding ways to increase a community’s “resilience IQ” should be a national priority.

Green Business Wave or Greenwashing?

CounterThink: Adams & Berger (2007)
By Azi Akpan, Science and Policy Analyst; Manager, National Wetlands Awards
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Businesses historically have had a complicated relationship with the natural environment. The Industrial Revolution, marked by the boom of economic development and birth of modern business, emerged at the expense of natural resources and public health. Historical and current business activities continue to contribute to some of our most pressing global challenges, including climate change, resource scarcity, and social inequality. Concepts such as corporate social responsibility and environmental social governance attempt to establish a new relationship between business, the environment, and communities. These principles aspire to synergize business prosperity, sustainability, and social equity.

Environmental Justice Panel Spotlights Women Activists and Scholars

Environmental Justice Panel
By Lovinia Reynolds , Research Associate
Monday, April 30, 2018

On Monday, April 16, ELI, the Environmental Justice Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice (CRSJ), Georgetown University Law Center, Georgetown Environmental Law Society, and the D.C. Bar Association hosted a seminar entitled: Environmental Justice in the 21st Century Part 2: Threats and Opportunities. The event focused on changes and challenges in the environmental justice movement and featured a panel of environmental justice experts and a keynote speech from Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Cal.). Representative Ruiz, a medical doctor from Coachella Valley, California, delivered a passionate speech describing the struggles facing communities of color in his district who are often disenfranchised from the environmental decisionmaking process. His bill, the Environmental Justice Act of 2017 (H.R. 4114), the companion to Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) bill introduced in the Senate (S. 1996), aims to empower communities to have meaningful input into environmental decisions.

Strengthening Rental Housing Policies to Improve Public Health

The New York City Council recently moved to strengthen indoor air quality protec
By Amy Streitwieser, Staff Attorney
Monday, March 12, 2018

Earlier this year, the New York City Council took a notable step forward in addressing common indoor environmental health hazards. The Council passed Law 2018/055, which amends the city’s housing maintenance code to require private landlords to prevent and remediate indoor asthma triggers in their multifamily residential buildings.

Bonus Round: ELI Brainstorms New Ideas for Serious Games

Games can produce valuable information about strategies for taking on environmen
By Emmett McKinney, Former Research Associate, Azi Akpan, Science and Policy Analyst; Manager, National Wetlands Awards, Lovinia Reynolds , Research Associate, and John Hare-Grogg, Former Research Associate
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Games are not always, well, fun and games. Or maybe they are—which is their greatest strength. As noted by a 2011 article in The Economist, “The main reason why games are different is that they marry the power of modern technology to the insatiable human desire for play.” Lengthy reports often fail to reach their target audiences or deliver information in an engaging format. “Serious games” can be tremendously valuable for developing new approaches to address social challenges. By allowing their audience to interact with the content, play different roles, test out ideas, fail and learn, and change their strategy, games provide effective frameworks for engaging with (and maybe finding solutions to) emerging social, economic, and environmental challenges.

Public Health Consequences of Hurricane Harvey Continue to Unfold

Hurricane Harvey poses health risks, even after floodwaters have subsided (DoD).
By Christina Libre , Research Associate
Monday, February 5, 2018

Just over five months have elapsed since Hurricane Harvey battered the Texas Coast, dropping more than 50 inches of rain on parts of the Houston area. The storm’s devastation was swift, killing 88 people and displacing many thousands. Yet, Harvey’s full impacts continue to unfold. Beyond imposing huge material losses, the storm has taken a significant toll on the health of those in its wake. It may be wise to understand storm events like Harvey not only as short-term physical disruptors, but as public health crises that will likely unfold over many years, long after media attention and political will to respond may have cooled.

State Policies Are Still Needed to Reduce Radon Risk

Radon can enter homes in numerous ways (Photo: US EPA)
By Tobie Bernstein, Senior Attorney; Director, Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Program
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January is National Radon Action Month, a good time for policymakers to consider what action they can take to address one of the most important—and preventable—indoor health risks facing their constituents. Radon is responsible for around 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year. That makes it the second leading cause of lung cancer overall and the leading cause among non-smokers, according to EPA.

2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

As we get ready to ring in the New Year, the editors of Vibrant Environment thought it might be nice to take a look back at some of the work ELI did in 2017.

By far the biggest news story here in the United States was the arrival of the Trump Administration. In response to the growing demand for unbiased answers and analysis on how deregulatory initiatives by the new Administration and Congress will impact environmental protection, governance, and the rule of law, ELI released a special report, Regulatory Reform in the Trump Era

The Environmental Justice Act of 2017: A Monumental Opportunity

Capitol Hill
By Scott W. Badenoch, Jr., Esq., MDR, Visiting Attorney
Monday, November 27, 2017

On October 24, 2017, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA) announced The Environmental Justice Act of 2017 (EJA), S. 1996, H.R. 4114, a bill focused on strengthening legal protections against environmental harms for communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities. The EJA would be the first federal law of its kind, and follows in a 25 year legacy of legislative efforts, starting with the great Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in the 1990s, to codify environmental justice (EJ) once and for all.