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Vibrant Environment

The Shot Clock, the DH, and NEPA

By Fred Wagner, Partner, Venable LLP
Friday, December 6, 2019

On the surface, the 24-Second Shot Clock, the Designated Hitter, and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) NEPA regulations do not have much in common. But bear with me.

In 1954, the National Basketball Association (NBA) faced a problem—teams leading late in games would hold on to the ball, literally for minutes on end, in an effort to preserve their advantage. Ball-handling wizards like Bob Cousy could dribble out the clock, forcing the defense to chase him around in futility or commit a foul. The games got boring. NBA executives decided to install a shot clock to make their product fast-paced and exciting. The rest, as they say, is history.

Celebrating a Pathfinder in International Environmental Law—Festchrift for Professor Edith Brown Weiss

By Kirk Talbott, Visiting Scholar
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

On the bright, late autumn afternoon of November 19, over 100 people gathered at Georgetown University Law Center for a half-day forum on “Modernizing International Environmental Law” in celebration of Prof. Edith Brown Weiss. Co-sponsored by the Environmental Law Institute, the Georgetown Environmental Law Review, and the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Program, the symposium was more than a tribute to a famous scholar and beloved teacher. The presentations, panels, video calls, lively discussions, and reception portrayed a pathfinder with a strong moral compass and deep conviction—such that all of us felt inspired and motivated to continue in her footsteps.

Women and Environmental Law

Friday, November 15, 2019

When it comes to the history of the environmental law and policy in the United States, the heroic stories most of us have heard concern men—John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Henry David Thoreau, Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, David Sive, David Brower, to name but a handful of the most famous. But we are less likely to know the achievements of the women who molded modern environmental policy despite having to clear hurdles seldom encountered by men.

Educating Judges for the Climate Litigation of Today and Tomorrow

By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Some months back, I received a visit from two leaders in the climate science and sustainable energy arena: the former president of Climate Central, Paul Hanle, and David van Hoogstraten, who had just left his position as director of federal environmental regulatory affairs at BP America.

INECE Compliance Conversations Bring Together Experts and Practitioners to Discuss Effectiveness of Lead Paint Laws

By Avital Li, Research Associate
Monday, October 28, 2019

The public health dangers posed by lead exposure have been recognized and documented since the mid-20th century. Despite the pervasiveness of lead-based paint in buildings, including homes and schools, experience has shown that laws can effectively address the issue by phasing out lead paint.

A Group Launches a Law Movement

By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Monday, October 14, 2019

The New York Times reported on a conference of prominent lawyers to address the following question, “Do people have a constitutional right to freedom from air pollution and other environmental hazards and annoyances?”

What was an “unusual meeting” in the Times’s phrasing was held not last month but a half century ago at a rural conference center known as Airlie House just outside Warrenton, Virginia. The venerability of that clipping can be seen by the newspaper’s citing “the new field of ‘environmental law.’”

Juliana Studies Abroad: Lessons From Global Climate Change Litigation

By Kieran Minor, Research & Publications Intern
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Greta Thunberg’s arrival in New York last month was highly publicized. So was her choice to travel via a “zero-emissions” yacht and her speech before the U.N. General Assembly. What many missed was that she also filed a complaint against five countries over their climate negligence during her visit. But before Greta, there was (is) Juliana (well, Kelsea). Kelsea Cascadia Rose Juliana is the leading plaintiff in Juliana v. United States, otherwise known as the Youth Climate Case. Supported by the nonprofit organization Our Children’s Trust, Juliana and 20 other youth plaintiffs sued the U.S. government in 2015 over its lack of action to combat climate change. Greta and Juliana’s cases are among a small but growing docket of climate-related litigation around the globe, cases that may become the Marbury v. Madison of climate case law.

Celebrating 30 Years of Environmental Collaboration With INECE and AELERT

By Avital Li, Research Associate
Wednesday, October 2, 2019

In May 2020, the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its first international workshop that was held in Utrecht, Netherlands. In the 30 years since its foundation, we have witnessed an explosion in the development of environmental laws around the world.

Of Walls . . . and Windows

By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, September 30, 2019

“For everything there is a season,” says the old Pete Seeger song, quoting the much older still book of Ecclesiastes. It seems that we are currently in the season of walls. The physical manifestation of this particular period may be the issue of the wall on our southern border. But there are other walls, and some of them have law as their concrete or steel.

Innovating Environmental Protection for the Future

By Kasantha Moodley , Manager, Innovation and Governance
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

On the first Earth Day in 1970, Sen. Edmund Muskie called for “A total strategy to protect the total environment.” At that time – and for several decades – the overarching approach was one of regulatory compliance, largely directed by government. But the next 50 years of environmental protection will not look like the first 50—they will be driven by technology as much as by regulation.