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Vibrant Environment

D.C. Circuit Rules That EPA Cannot Delay Enforcement of Methane Rule

A natural gas drilling rig on the Pinedale Anticline, Wyoming (Photo: BLM)
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On July 3, 2017, the D.C. Circuit ruled against the Trump Administration in Clean Air Council v. Pruitt, holding that it could not delay an EPA rule limiting methane pollution from oil and gas drilling. The 2016 rule was part of the Obama Administration’s regulatory strategy to reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Measuring What is Meaningful: INECE Convenes Discussion Series on Performance Measurement for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement

EPA's Real-Time Water Quality Monitoring Buoy (U.S. EPA)
By Emmett McKinney, Research Associate
Thursday, July 13, 2017

In 2009, the New York Times Magazine published a story about the professional basketball player Shane Battier, dubbed the “No Stats All Star.” In terms of the sport’s most often cited statistics—points, rebounds, assists, steals—Battier was no standout. Nonetheless, each successive team that Battier joined won significantly more games the following season.

Deep Decarbonization and the Paris Aftermath

Implementing utility-scale renewable energy resources will require overcoming se
Monday, July 10, 2017

Despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, U.S. cities and states, as well as nations around the world, remain committed to addressing climate change, in many cases stepping up their efforts. But even had Trump decided otherwise, the Paris Agreement would not do enough to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules That Shale Gas Revenues From State Forests and Parks Must Be Spent on Conservation

A Marcellus shale gas-drilling site along Route 87, Lycoming County, PA.
By James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney; Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program
Wednesday, July 5, 2017

In a landmark decision issued June 20, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court confirmed that Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment, adopted in 1971, creates a “public trust” in Commonwealth resources as the “common property of all the people including generations yet to come.”

Shareholder Engagement Greens Corporations

The New York Stock Exchange, on Wall Street (Photo: Benjamin Dumas).
By Linda Breggin, Senior Attorney
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sustainable investment firms, state pension plans, and advocacy groups are influencing businesses’ sustainability practices through a variety of shareholder engagement approaches.  A key tool is the shareholder resolution – a proposal put forth by a shareholder or group of shareholders – that is included in a proxy statement and subject to a vote of the corporation’s shareholders.   

Regulation: Is $100 Million What It Used to Be?

Congress has used the $100 million threshold in numerous acts. (Photo: Glen Lowe
By James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney; Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program
Monday, June 19, 2017

Federal regulations undergo a lot of review during their development and drafting by federal agencies: input from government attorneys and economists, rounds of public comments under the Administrative Procedure Act, review by the Small Business Administration, and—often most significantly—review by the regulatory gatekeepers housed at the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

Environmental Sustainability: Finding a Working Definition

Villagers returning home as the sun sets in the Philippines (Source: UN Photo/Od
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

“Sustainability” was introduced in environmental policy discourse 30 years ago, when the World Commission on Environment and Development published Our Common Future, charting a path for development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” But as Scott Fulton, David Clarke, and María Amparo Albán write in the June issue of

With Declining Budgets, EPA Adjusts Approach to Compliance and Enforcement

EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo: NRDC)
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In the midst of gigantic political divide, on May 4, 2017, the Senate passed a continuing resolution that will finance the government through September 2017. The details of the resolution saw many environmentalists cheer as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) saw a modest cut to its budget to the tune of $80 million, a 1% cut overall. This victory came on the heels of a threatened cut of 31% in the president’s proposed budget.

A Problem in Small-Scale Fisheries Management in Spain and a Need to Rethink Implementation of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy

ACERGA fishing skipper Marcos Alfeirán during the protest camp in late 2015, NOS
By Xiao Recio-Blanco, Director, Ocean Program
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Galician Association of Purse-Seine Vessel Owners (ACERGA by its acronym in Galician) is the largest association of purse-seine vessel owners in Spain. Over a year ago, ACERGA fishers and many members of their families camped in front of the main building of the government of Galicia (northwestern Spain), demanding that their voice be heard in the regulatory process for determining Spain’s annual fishing quota distribution of mackerel and horse mackerel.

FOOD WASTE: Onsite Food Waste Pre-processing Systems: Is Recycling Really Happening?

By Taz [CC BY 2.0 (http:/creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia C
By Christopher Wright, Research and Publications Intern, and Carol Adaire Jones, Visiting Scholar
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Recycling food waste through composting and anaerobic digestion has the greatest potential by far to reduce the quantity of food waste going to landfills over the next 15 years relative to food waste reduction and reuse, according to ReFED. However, as more cities and states institute landfill food waste bans and other programs to promote recycling, the demand for centralized organic processing facilities is outpacing the supply. To address the gap, vendors are actively marketing to commercial customers new onsite pre-processing systems, including dehydrators, pulpers, and biodigesters. The systems can save money by reducing or eliminating off-site hauling of food waste and are well suited to facilities short on space and staff time. But the question arises: are the nutrients and energy in food waste really being recycled?  The answer depends upon the next stage of processing.