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Vibrant Environment

Talking Trash About Plastics

Plastic bag or jellyfish? Research suggests there will be more plastic than fish
By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney
Monday, July 2, 2018

It’s official: China isn’t taking our garbage anymore. Literally. Effective this year, China started restricting the import of 24 types of waste and established new thresholds for contaminants such as food residues and metals. Why does that create a significant problem for the United States? Consider this: China imported 776,000 metric tons of reclaimed plastic and 13 million metric tons of recycled paper from the United States in 2016 alone.

ELI Collaborates With Niue to Help Create One of the World’s Largest MPAs

Niue's Avatele Bay
By Xiao Recio-Blanco, Director, Ocean Program
Monday, June 18, 2018

One of the highlights of the 2017 Our Ocean Conference in Malta was the announcement made by Minister for Natural Resources Hon. Dalton Tagelagi that Niue, a small island nation in the South Pacific Ocean, would create a new, large marine protected area to adequately conserve the unique marine biodiversity in Niuean waters.

Fishing For Opportunity: A Perspective on Vietnamese Community Engagement in Gulf Restoration (Why I Participate in Gulf Restoration)

Danny Le and family
By Azi Akpan, Research Associate
Monday, May 14, 2018

This conversation with Danny Le, BPSOS, is part of the ELI Gulf of Mexico team’s “Why I Participate in Gulf Restoration” blog series. The series aims to highlight the views of community members impacted by the BP oil spill, and provide a glimpse of some challenges and successes they face in getting involved in the restoration processes.

Pearls of Wisdom From a Mississippi Fisherman: A Conversation With Ryan Bradley (Why I Participate in Gulf Restoration)

on Gulf Spill Restoration
By Azi Akpan, Research Associate
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Historically, the Gulf Coast region has produced more seafood than anywhere else in the continental U.S., both in volume and dollar value. Before the BP oil spill, in 2009, the Gulf seafood industry provided over 213,000 full- and part-time jobs. The oil spill has had a devastating impact on people working in the Gulf’s seafood industry. As a result of the BP oil spill, over 88,000 square miles of the Gulf’s federal waters—nearly 37%—were closed to fishing. There were also fishing closures in the state waters of Alabama (40% closed), Florida (2% closed), Louisiana (55% closed), and Mississippi (95% closed). Fishermen are still facing financial instability years after the spill, and have observed significant declines in landings and stock quality. Here, we highlight one Gulf fisherman’s perspective.

Offshore and Still on the Horizon, Part 2: President Trump’s Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Plan

An oil platform off the coast of California (arbyreed/Flickr)
By Jay Austin, Senior Attorney; Editor-in-Chief, Environmental Law Reporter®
Monday, February 26, 2018

As readers of this blog know, a recent refrain in environmental law has been “can he do that?” – the ongoing reexamination of presidential and executive branch authority in light of a dizzying array of proposed reversals, revisions, and rescissions of existing policies and rules. At ELI, we’ve attempted to answer that question through our “Environmental Protection in the Trump Era” report, which will get updated later this spring. My own contributions have included the chapter on offshore oil and gas drilling, as well as a more detailed look at last April’s Executive Order 13795 on “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” which extends the new watchword of “energy dominance” to the outer continental shelf.

“New Arctic” Is a Dream Meltdown

Inukshuks near Baffin Bay (Wikimedia Commons)
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I went to the North Pole in April, the favored month for travel in the High Arctic. That was 16 years ago. According to the 2017 National Climate Assessment, the region’s warming began accelerating around the time of my visit. It is no longer the same frozen ecology and economy I had seen.

Participating in Gulf Restoration

Biloxi, Mississippi
By Amy Streitwieser, Staff Attorney
Monday, December 4, 2017

[Updated December 13, 2017]

November was a busy month for Gulf restoration.

A couple of weeks back, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) held its second annual Restoration Summit.

To Do, and Not to Undo: The Issue of Presidential Authority Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

Oil platform off the coast of Alaska (Photo: BSEE).
By Tim Briscoe, Law Clerk
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

In December 2016, President Barack Obama issued a presidential Memorandum withdrawing about 128 million acres of federally owned underwater land in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from disposition for oil and gas leasing. Obama invoked a presidential power granted by Congress in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).

More Bog for the Buck: Leveraging NEPA Efficiencies to Increase Restoration

Coastal wetlands
By Amy Streitwieser, Staff Attorney, Teresa Chan, Senior Attorney, and Xiao Recio-Blanco, Director, Ocean Program
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

On August 30, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (the “Council”) announced that it is seeking public comment on a proposal to “approve implementation funding for the Robinson Preserve Wetlands Restoration project” in Florida. If the proposal is approved, the Council will allocate $1,790,546 in RESTORE Act (Pot 2) funds to implement the project, including a “reallocat[ion of] $470,910 from planning [funds] to implementation.” According to the Council, the project will restore approximately 118 acres of habitat, including coastal upland, wetland, and open water habitat types, in the Tampa Bay Watershed.

Mitigating Ocean Noise Impacts on Marine Mammals in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

Underwater noise can cause injury or death to whales (Christopher Michel).
By Greta Swanson, Visiting Attorney
Monday, September 25, 2017

Humans are rapidly increasing their industrial use of the ocean and its resources, resulting in great increases in underwater noise. Commercial shipping, naval sonar, seismic exploration, pile driving, acoustic deterrents for fishing, and seabed mining all produce ocean noise.