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Vibrant Environment

The Importance of Wetlands: The 2018 National Wetlands Awards

2018 National Wetlands Awardees (Roxie B. Photography)
By Kathryn R. Ma, Senior Editor
Monday, May 21, 2018

“These places hold the world together,” said National Wetlands Awardee Latimore M. Smith of wetlands during his award acceptance speech. Simple words spoken to him early in his career as he explored a Louisiana bog, they continue to hold profound meaning and inspire him to this day. At the National Wetlands Awards ceremony that took place on May 9, 2018, in Washington, D.C., each of the six awardees shared stories about what inspired them in their efforts to protect and preserve wetlands.

ELI Supports Judiciary of Indonesia in Sound Adjudication of Environmental Cases

Smoke rising from Indonesia due to illegal burning of peatlands (NASA/GSFC)
By Christina Libre , Research Associate, and Alejandra Rabasa, Senior Attorney; Director, Judicial Education Program
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

This summer, ELI’s Judicial Program, in collaboration with the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) and experts from other corners of the globe, will host a week-long, capacity-building workshop to support members of the Indonesian judiciary in soundly adjudicating cases related to the degradation of natural resources. The project is funded by the Swedish Postcode Foundation, an innovative organization dedicated to seeking long-term solutions to local and global challenges.

Recycling Household Waste: A Ten-Year Report

In this month's ELR, Viscusi et. al examine household recycling behavior
Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Recycling is perhaps the most prevalent pro-environmental activity at the household level. Household recycling efforts may be influenced by supportive nudges and, in some cases, laws that mandate recycling behavior. But unlike efforts such as decreasing household energy usage, success in recycling also hinges on governmental support: there must be some mechanism for collecting the recycled materials and converting them into useable commodities. Government entities, and in some cases private waste collection firms, provide for these recycling amenities.

Everglades Author Would Back Kids

Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a prominent environmental activist.
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The survivors of the horrible massacre at the high school in Parkland, Florida, have created a national movement in favor of measures to reduce gun violence. Firearms kill roughly as many Americans as does pollution and thus represent an equivalent threat to public health.

In bringing their message to the nation’s capital in a huge demonstration in March, with sibling gatherings around the country, they were consciously following in the tradition of their school’s namesake.

In Zinke We Trust?

Arches National Park
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), led by Secretary Ryan Zinke, manages one-fifth of the land in the United States. Its National Park Service (NPS) oversees units covering more than 84 million acres. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages refuges totaling just over 81 million acres. And the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages 247.3 million acres across 20 states. In total, these three agencies oversee 65% of the land owned by the federal government in the United States.

Paper or Bio-Plastic? Innovative Packaging to Prevent Food Loss

Innovations in food packaging create opportunities to reduce food loss (Pixabay)
By Lauren Petersil, Research and Publications Intern
Monday, April 9, 2018

It’s well known that up to 40% of food in the United States goes to waste. As a result, a large portion of the blue water utilized in agricultural irrigation ends up back in the ground—not in aquifers, but in landfills. While the majority of food waste in the United States is attributable to the disposal of safe, edible foods, a considerable amount of food that goes to landfill is “lost” due to spoilage or food being otherwise deemed unfit for human use. 

A Well Ends Well: An Exurban Fable

A Well Ends Well: An Exurban Fable
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Monday, April 2, 2018

“April showers bring May flowers,” the saying goes – but we also rely heavily on groundwater. In honor of the changing seasons, Vibrant Environment recounts a tale from The Environmental Forum of neighborhood water woes.

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Sustainable Business Models for Codigesting Food Waste

Creating Energy from Food Waste (EPA/Flickr)
By Carol Adaire Jones, Visiting Scholar
Monday, March 19, 2018

The wastewater sector’s “Utility of the Future” (UOTF) initiative envisions the sector’s transformation from managing waste to recovering and recycling valuable resources, thereby creating financial benefits for utilities, as well as environmental and economic development benefits for communities. Adding food waste to anaerobic digesters (AD) processing sewage sludge, a process called codigestion, is a promising UOTF innovation that expands the sector’s potential to recover renewable biogas for heat, power, and fuel, and to extract nutrients for fertilizers and soil amendments.

Yet, U.S. adoption of codigestion remains low: about 1 in 10 wastewater resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) have adopted AD, and about 1 in 10 of those is codigesting. To address this untapped potential, ELI has launched a new project to identify alternative sustainable business models for successful codigestion.

SCOOP & STACK Causing Cracks: Oklahoma Tightens Regulations to Curb Fracking Earthquakes

A USGS map reveals the dramatic increase in seismic activity in Oklahoma (USGS).
By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, March 5, 2018

After a slew of earthquakes triggered from shale oil and gas operations, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), the state’s oil and gas regulator, released new rules designed to reduce seismic activity. Hydraulic fracturing—fracking—is being used in combination with horizontal drilling to extract shale oil and gas in what has been called the “US’s hottest new area for horizontal development” in the state’s SCOOP [1] and STACK [2] shale plays, located in the Anadarko Basin.

War and Peace: Colombia’s Environmental Degradation Paradox

Policía Antinarcóticos  stand on guard after burning a coca laboratory near Tuma
By Nora Moraga-Lewy, Former Research Associate
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Colombia’s government and FARC rebels signed a historic peace accord in late 2016, ending a civil war that caused over 220,000 deaths and the internal displacement of over 7 million people. In addition to devastating lives and livelihoods, the civil war was destructive to the environment. Following historic negotiations and the congressional ratification of a revised agreement, Colombia still faces environmental risks in a time of relative peace. It is crucial that ongoing talks and reforms in the wake of over five decades of conflict take these factors into account in order to ensure sustained peace and development for the future.