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Vibrant Environment

Overcoming Impediments to Offshore CO2 Storage: Legal Issues in the United States and Canada

Monday, July 1, 2019

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a hot-button topic as a strategy to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CCS entails capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and industrial plants at the source, then injecting the captured carbon dioxide into underground geologic formations for storage. Much research has focused on sequestering carbon dioxide onshore, in depleted oil and gas reservoirs or deep saline aquifers. Offshore CCS also may be feasible, but presents several governance and legal challenges.

Fast Fashion: Cutting Corners to Fuel Excessive Consumption

By Kashaf Momin, Research & Publications Intern, and Kaveri Marathe, Founder, Texiles
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

When’s the last time you found yourself idly shopping out of boredom or buying a shirt just because it was on sale? If it was in the last week, then you’re not alone. The average American shopper buys 60% more clothing today than they did just 15 years ago, but keeps it for only half as long. At the end of the year, this results in approximately 80 pounds of unwanted clothing per person!

Maps, Mistakes, and Murder: Is Carpenter the Most Critical Environmental Case This Year?

By Kieran Minor, Research & Publications Intern
Friday, June 21, 2019

Several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court this term touched environmental law, ranging from jurisdictional disputes over a state’s right to ban uranium mining to whether state or federal laws apply when hunting moose from a hovercraft along an Alaskan river. An unusual amount of cases navigate the intersection of environmental regulations and tribal sovereignty, the Court so far siding with tribes on the issues of state fuel tax exemptions and hunting rights. One pending case, Carpenter v. Murphy, is not explicitly environmental, but the answer to its core question has potentially seismic environmental implications: is the eastern half of Oklahoma still, technically, an Indian reservation? While the case primarily involves criminal jurisdiction, the degree to which the Court accepts or rejects this question may alter taxation, regulation, and even ownership of one of the most energy resource-rich regions in the country.

Secretary Bernhardt Says He Doesn’t Have a Duty to Fight Climate Change. He’s Wrong.

By John D. Leshy, Emeritus Professor, University of California, Hastings College of the Law Solicitor, Department of the Interior (1993-2001).
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

With the help of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has had a long and proud history of tackling pressing challenges through responsible and inclusive management of America’s public lands. One might expect it would continue that tradition as climate change has become a major challenge confronting the nation.

Leadership of Women in the Environmental Movement

By Helena Kilburn, Educational Programming Intern
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Women have been leaders in every major movement, though their contributions all too often go unrecognized. The environmental movement is no exception. Women striving toward the betterment of this field have faced many challenges, but through skill and determination, they persevered. The environmental movement is over two centuries long with generations of women shaping policies and laws within the field. This blog features just a handful of the numerous women who paved the way for future environmentally conscious generations.

Proposed Revisions to Improve and Modernize CEQ’s NEPA Regulations

Monday, June 10, 2019

In 2018, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced its intentions to revisit and revise its 40-year-old NEPA regulations, following Pres. Donald Trump’s call in Executive Order No. 13807 to modernize the environmental review and authorization process. CEQ issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking last June and is now expected to send its proposal to the White House shortly.

Strategizing Against the Flame: What’s Next for California’s Wildfires?

By Helena Kilburn, Educational Programming Intern
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The 2018 wildfire season in California has been the state’s deadliest on record, and the 10 most deadly fires in California’s history occurred in the last four years. In a deviation from historic records, documentation of these recent fires show that their occurrence has become nearly year-round rather than seasonal. These fires pose extreme threats to 25 million acres of California’s wildlands, as well as to the 11 million people who live within the threatened area. In addition to intensifying climate change, faulty equipment and electric transmission from utility companies have contributed to the increase in wildfires in these high-risk regions. However, taking full monetary responsibility for these fires can lead to near or certain bankruptcy for the utility companies.

Toward Citizen Science Policy Outcomes

By Kasantha Moodley , Manager, Innovation and Governance, and George Wyeth , Visiting Scholar
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

In ways that did not exist even ten years ago, everyday people are acting as scientists: contributing their time and data to make notable discoveries, answer lingering questions, and develop awareness. Motivated by technology innovations, public concern, and limited institutional capacity, citizen science is gently reshaping the conventional systems that address human health and environmental protection.

Trips to the Biotech Frontier: Episode 3

By Kashaf Momin, Research & Publications Intern
Wednesday, May 8, 2019

By now, you have seen how biotech is transforming the food industry. You have also seen how it can revolutionize the construction and textile industries. In this final episode, we will explore biotechnology products you may find in your home in the near future.

The same platform used to brew hoppy beer without the hops, discussed in our last episode, is also transforming the fragrance business. In partnership with a Swiss perfume company, the bioscience firm Amyris synthetically produced patchouli, one of the essential oils that constitutes traditional perfume. This product, called CLEARWOOD®, was created using engineered yeast as its microbial platform, a more sustainable alternative to the costly and lengthy cultivation and extraction process of the patchouli plant. Meanwhile, Ginkgo Bioworks has designed its own aromatic oil....

Tribal Regulation of Single-Use Plastics

By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Monday, April 29, 2019

The world is waking up to the growing problem of plastic waste contaminating our ocean and terrestrial environments. Local governments—lauded as laboratories of innovation—have begun enacting bans and fees on single-use plastics, reducing the amount entering the waste stream in the first place. Businesses are stepping up; national and multinational governance bodies are adopting laws cutting down on the manufacture and distribution of single-use plastics. In the United States, California, the District of ColumbiaHawaii, and Maine have initiated statewide restrictions, while Oregon and Washington are considering similar measures.