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Vibrant Environment

In Zinke We Trust?

Arches National Park
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), led by Secretary Ryan Zinke, manages one-fifth of the land in the United States. Its National Park Service (NPS) oversees units covering more than 84 million acres. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages refuges totaling just over 81 million acres. And the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages 247.3 million acres across 20 states. In total, these three agencies oversee 65% of the land owned by the federal government in the United States.

A Key Victory for Citizen Suits in China

China's Tengger Desert (Photo: Evgeni Zotov)
By Zhuoshi Liu, Staff Attorney
Monday, March 26, 2018

On August 28, 2017, the Intermediate Court of Zhongwei City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, approved the mediation agreements reached between China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (GDF) and eight polluters involved in the Tengger Desert pollution case, ending one of China’s most significant environmental public interest cases.

Conservative Conservation: Bipartisan Environmentalism in the Trump Era

Blue heron are among the species benefiting from bipartisan conservation efforts
By Darragh Moriarty, Legal Extern
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“Anti-environmentalism is a mark of identity,” says Fred Rich, author of Getting to Green: Saving Nature: A Bipartisan Solution. “It is a mark of what it is to be a conservative.” With fossil fuel companies continuing to fund GOP politicians and a president who has called global warming a “hoax,” there are legitimate concerns that environmental issues will continue to polarize. The Republican 2016 Party platform described the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as “a political mechanism,” rejecting the “agendas” of the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement. In spite of this political climate, several politicians, from congressmen to state governors, and city mayors, are making bipartisan efforts to combat climate change. In doing so, they are not only showing that environmental sustainability and economic growth can go hand-in-hand, but that these measures receive support from voters across the political spectrum.

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.

SCOOP & STACK Causing Cracks: Oklahoma Tightens Regulations to Curb Fracking Earthquakes

A USGS map reveals the dramatic increase in seismic activity in Oklahoma (USGS).
By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, March 5, 2018

After a slew of earthquakes triggered from shale oil and gas operations, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), the state’s oil and gas regulator, released new rules designed to reduce seismic activity. Hydraulic fracturing—fracking—is being used in combination with horizontal drilling to extract shale oil and gas in what has been called the “US’s hottest new area for horizontal development” in the state’s SCOOP [1] and STACK [2] shale plays, located in the Anadarko Basin.

War and Peace: Colombia’s Environmental Degradation Paradox

Policía Antinarcóticos  stand on guard after burning a coca laboratory near Tuma
By Nora Moraga-Lewy, Research Associate
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Colombia’s government and FARC rebels signed a historic peace accord in late 2016, ending a civil war that caused over 220,000 deaths and the internal displacement of over 7 million people. In addition to devastating lives and livelihoods, the civil war was destructive to the environment. Following historic negotiations and the congressional ratification of a revised agreement, Colombia still faces environmental risks in a time of relative peace. It is crucial that ongoing talks and reforms in the wake of over five decades of conflict take these factors into account in order to ensure sustained peace and development for the future.

Measuring Up: Smart Meter Lessons From the United Kingdom

Smart meters can bring many benefits for both energy utilities and consumers (
By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, February 12, 2018

Smart meters—small, electronic devices that track and record energy consumption and communicate information back to the electrical utility—can reduce energy use by empowering consumers with the ability to monitor energy use and make better choices. Smart meters are an upgrade to outdated analog meters because they automatically record information in real time instead of requiring someone to manually record and transmit the collected data.

Of Frogs and Men

Are frogs better than humans at responding to slow threats?
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore famously used the example of a slowly boiled frog as a metaphor for climate change. That turns out not to be accurate, as biologists say the frog is smart enough to jump out of the pot long before it becomes frog soup. But the problem Gore described is real enough.

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.

D.C.’s Flushable Wipes Law Gets Clogged in District Court

Flushable wipes (Your Best Digs / Flickr)
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Flushable wipes have proven to not be so flushable and are wreaking havoc on some of the world’s major cities. Municipalities like New York City, spend millions of dollars to remedy clogging issues the wipes cause. New York City officials said in 2015 that "wipe-related equipment problems," have cost the city more than $18 million since 2010.