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Vibrant Environment

ACE Proposed Rule: Part I

By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney
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

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.

French Environment Minister’s Resignation: A Frustrated Call for Climate Action

By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, September 10, 2018

On Tuesday, August 28, French environment minister Nicolas Hulot announced he was quitting Emmanuel Macron’s government—on live radio. During his interview with France Inter, a frustrated Hulot explained, “I don’t want to give the illusion that my presence in government means we’re answering these issues properly—and so I have decided to leave the government.”

Finding Legal Avenues for Bottom-Up Management of Small-Scale Fisheries in the Mesoamerican Reef

By Sierra Killian, Research Associate
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

According to the World Bank, small-scale fisheries (SSF) in developing countries produce over one-half of total fish catch and employ almost 90 percent of part- and full-time fishers. Despite the subsector’s clear importance to food security and the financial sustainability of fisheries-dependent communities around the world, there are considerable gaps in both knowledge of and management strategies for small-scale fisheries. Because fishers in the SSF subsector are widely dispersed, it is difficult for governing bodies to collect data and make management decisions based on incomplete information. Given the precarious state of global fisheries, one-third of which are fished beyond biological sustainability, managing SSF despite the lack of data is a crucial component of sustainably feeding the world into the future.

Federal District Court Enjoins EPA Rule Suspending 2015 Waters of the United States Rule

By Hunter Leigh Jones, Associate Editor, ELR
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

On August 16, 2018, a federal district court in Charleston, South Carolina, enjoined EPA’s rule suspending implementation of the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS Rule), which was finalized by the Agency in 2015 under the Barack Obama Administration. The WOTUS Rule was enacted to clarify that wetlands, seasonal streams, and tributaries qualify as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA), replacing a 1980s regulation that included interstate waters and wetlands adjacent to those waters as “waters of the United States,” but specifically excluded “waters that are themselves wetlands.” The suspension rule, which was finalized in February of this year, effectively delayed the WOTUS Rule until 2020 and reinstated the definition of “waters of the United States” under the 1980s regulation.

Democracy and Climate Change Mitigation: Complex Realities

Paris Accord
By Nina Pusic, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, August 20, 2018

Uneasy tensions rest at the crossroads between democratic theory and contemporary climate change mitigation policy. The connection between human activity and the pending climate consequences caused by lack of emissions mitigation is clear. For decades, we’ve known that climate change is both anthropogenic and will cause considerable harm to the global public good, including increased intensity of natural disasters, food insecurity, drought, and sea-level rise.

NEPA Reform: Perspectives on Streamlined Schedules, Less Expensive Processes, and More Concise Documents

Infrastructure
By Brian W. Boose, CEP, Associate Vice President, AECOM, and Brian P. Kennedy, AICP, Senior Project Manager, AECOM
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

On May 10, 2018, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and the law firm Arnold and Porter hosted a day-long conference in Washington, D.C., entitled Infrastructure Review and Permitting: Is Change in the Wind? Alex Hergott, Associate Director for Infrastructure for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), provided the afternoon keynote. He asked the distinguished audience whether any of us thought that the NEPA process, and specifically the environmental impact statement (EIS) process, couldn’t be delivered faster, at lower cost, and with fewer pages of documentation, without forsaking environmental protections. He went on to provide many good points and examples in support of answering his own question. 

Congressional Conference on the Farm Bill: What is at Stake for Food Waste?

Capitol Building
By Ian Hardman, Research & Publications Intern, and Carol Adaire Jones, Visiting Scholar
Monday, August 13, 2018

With the U.S. Senate voting on July 31 to join the House of Representatives in conference on their respective Farm Bills, the two houses face major challenges to resolve the wide gaps in many elements. Reauthorized every 5 years or so, the Farm Bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that affects all facets of the American food supply. We highlight the gaps between the House and Senate bills in new and continuing provisions promoting the reduction of wasted food, the reuse of edible food, and recycling of food waste. Representing a mere rounding error in the budget, they have been understandably overshadowed by the conflicts over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which dominates the budget.

Arctic Tourism in the Age of Climate Change

Arctic
By Avital Li, Research Associate
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

As pristine landscapes become a relic of the past, the icy tundras and taigas of the Arctic polar regions are becoming prized destinations for high-end adventure travelers who want to see the region before it’s gone forever. The perverse consequence of this kind of “last-chance” tourism in the Arctic is that, done carelessly, it will almost certainly accelerate the destruction and damage of the precise attractions that it so fetishizes, people and landscapes included.