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Vibrant Environment

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.

Updates on New York’s Proposed Consumer Product Labeling Requirements

By Claire Mathis, Senior Associate Health Scientist, Cardno ChemRisk, and Allison Killius, Associate Health Scientist II, Cardno ChemRisk
Monday, September 23, 2019

On August 27, the New York Supreme Court struck down the New York Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program (HCPDIP), which requires manufacturers to list chemical ingredients of concern on their website. The court struck down the HCPDIP on the basis that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) did not follow proper procedures under the State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA). The court stated that though the department issued it as a "guidance," it was in fact a binding rule and did not follow the proper procedures in creating a formal law. The HCPDIP was declared "null and void" and remitted back to the DEC for compliance with the SAPA. In light of the court’s ruling, cleaning product manufacturers no longer have to comply with listing requirements by January 2020.

Data and Information Technology for the Environment: The Earth’s Environment Needs the Best Tools Too

By Wayne S. Balta, Vice President, Corporate Environmental Affairs & Product Safety, IBM Corporation
Friday, September 13, 2019

Our world is flooded with data, and the amount of data continues to increase exponentially. In a prior era, data primarily meant numbers. They were rather orderly, and they would typically be presented in a relatively structured way. That’s not the case today, however.

Bearing Witness: The Environmental Law Institute at Age 50

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

In the 1960s, a time of extreme air and water pollution across America, governments manifestly were failing to sustain a healthy environment. The conservation victories of the late 19th century and of the Progressive era in the 1920s had proven to be necessary but not sufficient. In April of 1965, the Conservation Foundation (CF) scoped out the growing threats to the North American environment with a conference at Airlie House just outside of Washington, D.C. Clearly, policies and laws were lacking.

Federalism as a Zero-Sum Game?

Monday, September 9, 2019

In recent years, “competitive federalism” between U.S. states and the federal government has spread to encompass environmental regulation. After EPA issued the Clean Power Plan in 2015, more than one-half of the states filed lawsuits alleging that EPA’s plan encroached upon state authority to determine energy policy. Between 2009 and 2017, Texas alone sued the Obama Administration at least 48 times, many of those suits over EPA action regarding air and water quality standards. While the pollution control laws passed in the 1970s were founded upon “cooperative federalism,” competitive federalism has resulted in a zero-sum rhetoric that pits environmental protection against economic growth.

In Search of "Bricklayers": Building and Reinforcing the Foundations of Private-Sector Sustainability

By Alan B. Horowitz, Principal and Managing Director, Trusted Companies LLC
Wednesday, September 4, 2019

I have a confession: I can’t stand the “what’s your occupation” question—credit card applications, cocktail parties, whatever. I find it limiting and often irrelevant. Truth be told, I haven’t known how to answer the question for years. “Environmental, Health, and Safety Executive?” “Sustainability Leader?” “ESG Champion?” The reality is that my default answer has become “recovering environmental lawyer” but I worry that’s insensitive . . . !