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Vibrant Environment

2020 Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review Winners Announced

By Anna Beeman, Research Associate, and Linda Breggin, Senior Attorney; Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Each year, the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review (ELPAR)—a collaboration between Vanderbilt University Law School (VULS) and ELI—identifies articles that propose innovative law and policy approaches to pressing environmental problems. This year's awardees propose creative approaches to a range of cutting-edge environmental issues:

Portable Electronic Devices in Hazardous Areas

Digital Multimeter
By Gayle Nicoll, Ph.D, REP, ASP, CSP; AECOM’s Americas Process Safety Lead
Monday, January 13, 2020

There are plenty of blog posts stating portable electronic devices (PEDs) and industrial settings don’t mix, but most are about distracted working: PED use is unsafe because employees are distracted and unfocused and accidents can happen. That’s not this post. Instead, I want to talk about the legal and safety challenges that pose liabilities when PEDs are intentionally used as part of the work environment—especially within designated hazardous environments.

Sinking Politics and Climate Migrants: Legal Opportunities for the United States (Part 2)

By Jessica Oo, Research & Publications Intern
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

In the past, some domestic and international attempts to alleviate the burdens of migrant populations and establish legal protections for them have been implemented, but many of these protections are not specific enough and lack legally binding measures adequate to ensure that peoples displaced by weather-related disasters are protected on a global scale. International norms are important, as they can at least symbolically set a standard that national governments can follow.

Sinking Politics and Climate Migrants: Legal Opportunities for the United States (Part 1)

By Jessica Oo, Research & Publications Intern
Monday, December 16, 2019

Countries around the world are slowly sinking and the list of vulnerable communities is only getting longer. According to the International Displacement Monitoring Center, 28 million people in 2018 were displaced from their homes due to regional conflict, violence, and environmental disasters.

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.’”