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Vibrant Environment

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).

The Environmental Justice Act of 2017: A Monumental Opportunity

Capitol Hill
By Scott W. Badenoch, Jr., Visiting Attorney
Monday, November 27, 2017

On October 24, 2017, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA) announced The Environmental Justice Act of 2017 (EJA), S. 1996, H.R. 4114, a bill focused on strengthening legal protections against environmental harms for communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities. The EJA would be the first federal law of its kind, and follows in a 25 year legacy of legislative efforts, starting with the great Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in the 1990s, to codify environmental justice (EJ) once and for all.

Analyzing the Food Rescue Landscape in Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee (Wikimedia Commons)
By Emmett McKinney, Research Associate, JoAnne Berkenkamp, Senior Advocate, Food & Agriculture Program, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Linda Breggin, Senior Attorney
Monday, November 20, 2017

Some say leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving. While that may be true, the rest of the year, there are ample missed opportunities to donate surplus prepared foods from institutions and restaurants. Realizing these opportunities is an important way to waste less food and feed more people, because up to 40% of food (along with the water, energy, and land used in production) goes to waste every year in the United States. At the same time, over 13% of Americans—one in eight—experience food insecurity.

Houston After Harvey: Building Resilience, or Business as Usual?

Buffalo Bayou Park (Nora M.L.)
By Nora Moraga-Lewy, Research Associate
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Houston’s 160-acre Buffalo Bayou Park was designed to flood. The park is lined with native vegetation and landscaped to channel runoff and maximize floodwater transport capacity. Dog-walkers, joggers, bikers, and picnickers frequent the park, which also serves as habitat for native plant and animal species and has features that help filter pollutants from stormwater runoff that would otherwise flow directly into the waterway.

Budget Reconciliation: Taxes and a Wildlife Refuge on the Chopping Block

The Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (US FWS)
By Patricia J. Beneke, Visiting Scholar
Monday, November 13, 2017

Many of the provisions in the tax legislation being considered by Congress this month (H.R. 1 “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” and related Senate legislation) as part of the Budget Reconciliation process are getting substantial attention: the reduction in corporate tax rates, elimination of the estate tax, consolidation of individual income tax brackets, elimination of medical and state and local tax deductions, and modification of the mortgage interest deduction. However, one key matter in the package is only now beginning to receive notable public attention: the long and hard-fought legislation to open the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Arctic Refuge) to oil and gas leasing and development.

Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade: Many Targets, But No Silver Bullets

African elephant in Botswana (Sponchia / Pixabay).
By John Hare-Grogg, Research Associate, Benjamin Solomon-Schwartz, Public Interest Law Fellow, and Carl Bruch, Senior Attorney; Director, International Programs
Wednesday, November 8, 2017

International illegal wildlife trade (IWT) threatens global biodiversity, imperils certain charismatic species, and fuels organized crime. Wildlife trafficking is the world’s fourth most lucrative crime, after only the trafficking of drugs, humans, and arms. Approximately 350 million plants and animals are sold on the black market every year, with an estimated value of between US $7 billion and $23 billion.

Achim Steiner Receives ELI’s Environmental Achievement Award

Achim Steiner
By Laura Frederick, Grants & Development Writer
Monday, November 6, 2017

On October 18th, the Environmental Law Institute hosted its annual ELI Award Dinner. Affectionately known as the “environmental law prom,” over 650 of the best and brightest environmental professionals from across the country descended upon Washington, D.C., to connect with colleagues and honor this year’s winner of the ELI Environmental Achievement Award.

Scott Pruitt’s EPA: “Back to Basics” or Slash and Burn?

Scott Pruitt (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s “back to basics” agenda for the Agency suggests a renewed focus on the fundamentals of environmental protection. But according to a new article in the November 2017 issue of the Environmental Law Reporter, “Pruitt is not preserving the ‘basics’ of our environmental protection system, but deconstructing them.”

Haunted by Dead Electronics? Don’t Let E-Waste Laws Scare You!

E-Waste (Wikimedia Commons)
By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney
Monday, October 30, 2017

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the fastest-growing segment of the municipal waste stream. Nearly 100% is recyclable, and valuable materials like plastics, metals, and glass can be recovered. E-waste also can contain toxic materials, like lead, mercury, and arsenic. Worldwide, up to 50 million tons of e-waste is expected to be dumped in 2017. Yet, in the United States, less than 30 percent is recycled.