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Vibrant Environment

The Impact of Justice Kennedy’s Retirement on Environmental Law: An ELR Dialogue

Anthony Kennedy
Monday, October 15, 2018

The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy this past July is arguably a pivotal point for U.S. Supreme Court decisions on environmental law. Justice Kennedy was a crucial swing vote on a variety of environmental issues still relevant today, particularly cases involving regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and the reach of the Clean Water Act. His vote in the 5-4 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA upheld EPA’s power to limit greenhouse gas emissions. In Rapanos v. United States, Justice Kennedy’s controlling opinion held that a wetland falls within the scope of the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction if it bears a “significant nexus” to a traditional navigable waterway.

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

Industrial Power Plant
By Lovinia Reynolds , Policy Analyst and Environmental Justice Coordinator
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

Cards Against Calamity
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.

A Time to Pivot, Reset, and Recommit to Core Principles

EPA logo
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

These past months have been turbulent times for my old agency, EPA. Shortly before this writing, Scott Pruitt resigned in a cloud of allegations about ethical and judgment lapses, proving once again that, in Washington, D.C., process fouls are often more undoing than policy choices. And, of course, if your policy choices are provocative, all the greater the need to, as my mother would say, “Keep your nose clean,” as the sharp knives will no doubt be out, ready to slice and dice if the opportunity is presented.

The Future of Waste Management: Shifting Toward Circular Economies

Beach Waste
By Hannah Dale, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, October 1, 2018

It is hard to ignore the pervasiveness of waste in our daily lives and around the world. Whether it is mounds of garbage piling onto beaches in the Dominican Republic, the enormous amounts of plastic that marine animals accidentally consume, pollution from industries and transportation in our air and water, or daily individual waste, we cannot look past the impacts of generating unnecessary waste.

The Fate of the Dusky Gopher Frog: ELI’s Discussion on Implications for Habitat Conservation

Dusky Gopher Frog
By Hannah Dale, Research & Publications Intern
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The dusky gopher grog is a little-known endangered species only found in a few isolated pond habitats of southern Mississippi. This playful amphibian is apparently rather shy, covering its eyes and playing dead when held by a human. Unfortunately, the species has been struggling to survive for decades, encountering threats such as habitat loss, drought, and disease decimating its fragile population.

ACE Proposed Rule: Part II

Power Plant
By Cynthia R. Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Monday, September 24, 2018

In Part One of this two-part blog, we looked at EPA's recently proposed Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule and how it generally compares with the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan (CPP) Rule. But with many environmental lawyers being closet economists, no contemplation of new environmental regulation is complete without a discussion of cost-benefit analysis.

ACE Proposed Rule: Part I

Power Plant
By Cynthia R. Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

On August 21, EPA introduced its much-anticipated Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule to replace the Barack Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) Rule for regulating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from our nation’s aging fleet of power plants. This proposal checks off another item on the Donald Trump Administration’s deregulatory agenda and elicits a number of profound questions. What are the main differences between the ACE and the CPP? What are the implications for public health, the environment, and the electric power sector? More philosophically, why, in the 21st century, do we continue relying on a Victorian-era source of energy to power our cell phones?

Tackling Environmental and Social Exploitation in Supply Chains

shipping containers on a dock
By Eleanor King , Graduate Sustainability Consultant, AECOM, and Sally Vivian, Technical Director of Business Sustainability, AECOM
Monday, September 17, 2018

When the Modern Slavery Act of 2015 went into effect in the United Kingdom, businesses were challenged to better understand their own supply chains. The Act applies to any commercial organization that does business in the United Kingdom (U.K.), and not just for its U.K.-based operations. The Act requires businesses with an annual turnover of more than £36 (USD $46.5) million to declare to the public their efforts to increase supply chain transparency and reduce the risk of environmental and social exploitation in their operations. Since the Act’s passage, there has been a marked increase in the urgency of efforts to improve Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) in businesses across all sectors. Despite this, research by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) shows that over one-third of businesses covered by the Act are still not meeting the requirements.

A New Paradigm for Environmental Protection

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

An increasingly fast-paced technological world requires a restructuring in environmental protection strategy. In A New Environmentalism: The Need for a Total Strategy for Environmental Protection, ELI President Scott Fulton and Dave Rejeski, Director of ELI’s Technology, Innovation, and Environment Program, discuss how environmental protection could be organized and implemented in the future.

All blog posts are the opinion of its author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of ELI the organization or its members.