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Vibrant Environment

Sediment Diversions: Big Projects Confront Land Loss in the Mississippi River Delta

By Dominic Scicchitano, Research Associate, and Jarryd Page, Public Interest Law Fellow
Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Mississippi River Delta and Louisiana coastline are disappearing. Since the late 1920s, efforts to control the Mississippi through levees and dams have impeded its natural ability to deposit sediment downstream, contributing to large-scale land loss. It’s estimated that Louisiana’s coastal parishes lost roughly two thousand square miles of land between 1932 and 2016. As rising seas driven by climate change threaten to further consume the Gulf coast, there is an imperative to address the growing problem of shrinking landmass. Confronting this threat with a sense of urgency will allow for preservation of Louisiana’s communities, economies, and cultural resources into the future.

Advancing Human Rights-Based Approaches and Conflict Sensitivity in Forest Monitoring and Management

Tropical forest
By Emily Donegan, National Forest Monitoring, FAO, and Julian Fox, Team Leader, National Forest Monitoring, FAO
Monday, December 21, 2020

Harbouring the vast majority of life on Earth, forests are a vital natural resource that provide ecosystem services essential for life and livelihoods. Forests are sources of important raw materials such as timber, wood fuel, and non-timber-forest products. However, competition to access forests, like many natural resources, is often a motive for human conflict. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that in the last 60 years, at least 40 percent of all intrastate conflicts have had a link to natural resources.

Reasserting Tribal Forest Management Under Good Neighbor Authority

Forest
By Cynthia R. Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Monday, December 14, 2020

Earlier this year, the Environmental Law Institute hosted a webinar on cultural fire management—just prior to yet another devastating fire season across the West Coast of the United States. The discussion highlighted the millennia of Indigenous peoples’ sustainable forest management practices, drawing a sharp contrast with the consequences of over a century of federal fire-suppression policy, now exacerbated by climate change. That discussion now prompts a deeper conversation about options available to Indigenous tribes for regaining their stewardship role over forest resources on their traditional lands.

What Did CEQ Do?

White House
By James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney; Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program
Monday, September 14, 2020

Acting in response to Executive Order No. 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) rewrote the governmentwide regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) this year. CEQ published its proposal to substantially amend the NEPA rule on January 10, 2020, and published its final rule on July 16, 2020 (85 Fed. Reg. 43304). The new rule becomes effective today, September 14, 2020, and CEQ added language to the final rule to provide that it will apply directly to federal agency actions and preempt all “inconsistent” agency procedures as of that date.

A Road Map to Net-Zero? BLM’s Authority to Mitigate Climate Change on Public Lands

Public land
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Almost one-quarter of all U.S. CO2 emissions come from fossil fuels extracted from public lands. Producing more than 274 million barrels of oil, 3.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas, and 302 million tons of coal each year, BLM’s management decisions have a significant impact on climate change. In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, authors Jamie Gibbs Pleune, John Ruple, and Nada Wolff Culver argue that the Bureau has not only the authority, but a legal duty to mitigate climate change in its permitting decisions. Using existing legal structures, they provide a road map for requiring all new BLM oil and gas development to achieve net-zero emissions.

Getting to the Meat of the Matter

confined cows
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting a variety of industries, from travel to retail to restaurants. But perhaps the hardest-hit are meat and poultry processing plants, which have been experiencing outbreaks throughout the United States. In April, President Trump issued an Executive Order declaring these plants “critical infrastructure” to make sure they stay open, and the number of cases in these plants continued to rise in the days and weeks that followed. According to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, as of June 15 there have been over 25,000 reported positive cases tied to meatpacking facilities in at least 235 plants in 33 states, and at least 90 reported worker deaths at 39 plants in 24 states.

Perspectives From Our Wetland Heroes: Part 3

By Trinity Favazza, Founder, Action for Amphibians, and Rob Wade , Outdoor Education and Science Coordinator, Plumas County Office of Education
Friday, May 15, 2020

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is pleased to announce the winners of the 31st Annual National Wetlands Awards: Mark Beardsley; John W. Day Jr.; Trinity Favazza; Ted LaGrange; Sam Lovall; and Robert Wade. Together, these awardees have restored, researched, and protected thousands of acres of wetlands nationwide; their examples have inspired many members of their community to act and make a difference to protect and improve these vital natural resources.

Perspectives From Our Wetland Heroes: Part 2

By John W. Day, Professor Emeritus, Louisiana State University, and Sam Lovall, Friends of the Detroit River
Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is pleased to announce the winners of the 31st Annual National Wetlands Awards: Mark Beardsley; John W. Day Jr.; Trinity Favazza; Ted LaGrange; Sam Lovall; and Robert Wade. Together, these awardees have restored, researched, and protected thousands of acres of wetlands nationwide; their examples have inspired many members of their community to act and make a difference to protect and improve these vital natural resources.

Perspectives From Our Wetland Heroes: Part 1

By Ted LaGrange , Wetland Program Manager, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and Mark Beardsley, Principal of EcoMetrics and founder of Riparian Reconnect in Buena Vista, Colorado
Monday, May 11, 2020

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is pleased to announce the winners of the 31st Annual National Wetlands Awards: Mark Beardsley; John W. Day Jr.; Trinity Favazza; Ted LaGrange; Sam Lovall; and Robert Wade. Together, these awardees have restored, researched, and protected thousands of acres of wetlands nationwide; their examples have inspired many members of their community to act and make a difference to protect and improve these vital natural resources.

NEPA: Time for a Tune-Up

ELI 50th Anniversary
By Dava Kaitala, General Director, Construction Permitting and Sustainability, BNSF, and John Lovenburg
Friday, December 27, 2019

The passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was a seminal moment in the history of U.S. environmental federal policy, advancing protection of the environment in decisionmaking. Unfortunately, the process has become increasingly cumbersome, lengthy, and frustrating to many parties. Moving forward, an improved focus on the quality and alignment of decisions is needed.

All blog posts are the opinion of its author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of ELI the organization or its members.