ELI Primary Menu

Skip to main content

Vibrant Environment

A Key Victory for Citizen Suits in China

China's Tengger Desert (Photo: Evgeni Zotov)
By Zhuoshi Liu, Staff Attorney
Monday, March 26, 2018

On August 28, 2017, the Intermediate Court of Zhongwei City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, approved the mediation agreements reached between China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (GDF) and eight polluters involved in the Tengger Desert pollution case, ending one of China’s most significant environmental public interest cases.

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.

Public Health Consequences of Hurricane Harvey Continue to Unfold

Hurricane Harvey poses health risks, even after floodwaters have subsided (DoD).
By Christina Libre , Research Associate
Monday, February 5, 2018

Just over five months have elapsed since Hurricane Harvey battered the Texas Coast, dropping more than 50 inches of rain on parts of the Houston area. The storm’s devastation was swift, killing 88 people and displacing many thousands. Yet, Harvey’s full impacts continue to unfold. Beyond imposing huge material losses, the storm has taken a significant toll on the health of those in its wake. It may be wise to understand storm events like Harvey not only as short-term physical disruptors, but as public health crises that will likely unfold over many years, long after media attention and political will to respond may have cooled.

Watson, Meet Eco

Could algorithms be used to automate environmental management? (Photo: Pixabay)
By Dave Rejeski, Director; Technology, Innovation and the Environment Project
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

In a not-so-far-away future, environmental management will be done largely by algorithm. Here is how that could happen . . . .

In 2015, two graduates from Stanford business school, William Glass and Eden Kropski, founded a firm to produce and sell high-performance sportswear made entirely of synthetic fibers bioengineered from yeast microbes. The product was a runaway success and low-impact, but shipping it around the planet wasn’t.

Shale Gas: Bridge Fuel or Pipe Dream?

Natural gas extraction is set to resume in the U.K. in 2018 (Photo: Geograph)
By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, January 22, 2018

The U.K. government cites shale gas as a “safe and environmentally sound” source of new energy and is actively promoting development of the fossil resource—using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—in hopes of emulating the United States’ shale gas “revolution.” 

D.C.’s Flushable Wipes Law Gets Clogged in District Court

Flushable wipes (Your Best Digs / Flickr)
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Flushable wipes have proven to not be so flushable and are wreaking havoc on some of the world’s major cities. Municipalities like New York City, spend millions of dollars to remedy clogging issues the wipes cause. New York City officials said in 2015 that "wipe-related equipment problems," have cost the city more than $18 million since 2010.

Look! A New Pollutant

A new class of nanopollutants was recently discovered in coal ash,
By Dave Rejeski, Director; Technology, Innovation and the Environment Project
Monday, October 2, 2017

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, coal-fired systems have been emitting a pollutant we did not even know existed . . . until now. In 2014, a team of scientists studying arsenic in the Dan River coal ash spill site in North Carolina discovered a new nano-scale version of titanium oxides that had never been seen before.* What they discovered were titanium suboxides, or so-called Magnéli phases, which were first synthesized in the 1930s. These substances are extremely rare in nature, seen only in rocks having an extraterrestrial origin (meteorites, lunar rocks, and interplanetary dust particles), and at one known point on the earth’s surface—rock formations on the central coast of western Greenland.

The Evolution and Future of the Oil Pollution Act

Skimming oil in the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 BP oil spill (Photo
By Sara Kaufhardt, Research and Publications Intern, and Brett Korte, Staff Attorney; Director, Associates Program
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, which released 11 million gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean, provided the impetus for U.S. Congress to pass the 1990 Oil Pollution Act (OPA), which strengthened the federal government’s ability to respond to and prevent oil spills.

When Cars Lie

The Volkswagen Jetta TDI was one model using defeat devices to sidestep emission
By Dave Rejeski, Director; Technology, Innovation and the Environment Project
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

For months, Volkswagen has been reeling from an emissions manipulation scandal affecting over one-half million U.S. vehicles and costing the company more than $20 billion in reparations. The financial and reputational damage has now invaded the VW supply chain, with Bosch, the company who developed the emissions control programs for VW, agreeing to pay customers over $300 million in damages. Who is next? Probably Fiat/Chrysler and Daimler, both under investigation for evading diesel emissions rules.

The Uncertain Fate of WOTUS

Emerald Bay, Michael
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

In a series of executive orders, the president has requested that agencies review several environmental protection rules, and if deemed necessary, repeal or modify rules to better facilitate economic growth. One such rule, the Clean Water rule, also known as the Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS), has been in the crosshairs of industry for some time.