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Vibrant Environment

Cryptocurrency—A New Tool to Help Combat Wildlife Trafficking

Tiger Alliance cryptocurrency is a new tool for mobilizing anti-trafficking reso
By Sara Kaufhardt, Research and Publications Intern
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The enforcement of wildlife trafficking laws suffers from a lack of capacity in “hotspot” countries to combat the powerful economic incentives for poaching endangered species. However, emerging technologies create new opportunities to counter these incentives for poaching by harnessing the economic incentives to protect ecosystems, natural resources, and wildlife.

Getting Serious About Playing Games: ELI Designs Award-Winning Educational Game

ELI's Cards Against Calamity board game engages coastal communities in resilienc
By Dave Rejeski, Visiting Scholar, and John Hare-Grogg, Former Research Associate
Monday, July 31, 2017

ELI’s Technology, Innovation and the Environment project targets the market for serious games with our new game, Cards Against Calamity, a multiplayer board game that explores coastal communities’ resilience to crises. Cards Against Calamity was developed in collaboration with 1st Playable Productions and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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. OPA is part of an evolving field of law that is increasingly relevant, given the rise in oil and gas production in the United States and the correlated rise of oil spill accidents, most notably the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

As the United States becomes a net exporter of petroleum products, the expansion of onshore oil transportation is producing significant controversy. The Trans-Canada and Dakota Access pipelines raised issues concerning problems posed by the construction of oil pipelines. Given the Trump Administration’s commitment to expand domestic oil production, it is critical to examine the challenges OPA may face in an evolving energy market.

Bluefin Tuna: Critically Endangered Species or “World Gourmet”?

Despite having few natural enemies, bluefin tuna are threatened by overfishing (
By Zhou Jinfeng, Secretary General, CBCGDF, Huang Shuya , Researcher, CBCGDF, Linda Wong, Deputy Secretary General, CBCGDF, and Xiao Recio-Blanco, Senior Attorney; Director, Ocean Program
Monday, July 24, 2017

Bluefin tuna, the general group name of several species that belong to subgenus of true tunas Thunnus (Thunnus), are the largest of all tunas and have a natural lifespan of over 50 years. Reaching over two meters in length and weighing 200 kilograms as adults, the species is at the top of the marine food chain. But for great white sharks, bluefin tunas have few natural enemies. Sadly, in the last few decades, a new enemy has appeared: humans.

D.C. Circuit Rules That EPA Cannot Delay Enforcement of Methane Rule

A natural gas drilling rig on the Pinedale Anticline, Wyoming (Photo: BLM)
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On July 3, 2017, the D.C. Circuit ruled against the Trump Administration in Clean Air Council v. Pruitt, holding that it could not delay an EPA rule limiting methane pollution from oil and gas drilling. The 2016 rule was part of the Obama Administration’s regulatory strategy to reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Spend Now, Save Later: The Economic Value of Floodplain Acquisitions

By Brooks Lamb, Intern
Monday, July 17, 2017

Floodplain acquisitions offer many benefits. As Dr. Rebecca Kihslinger explained in a previous post, buyout properties can be transformed from flood-prone subdivisions and vulnerable riverfront businesses into community gardens, biking trails, and natural habitats. And by acquiring flood-prone properties, local governments can spare families and business owners the heartbreak that accompanies seeing one’s home or livelihood submerged.

Measuring What is Meaningful: INECE Convenes Discussion Series on Performance Measurement for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement

EPA's Real-Time Water Quality Monitoring Buoy (U.S. EPA)
By Emmett McKinney, Former Research Associate
Thursday, July 13, 2017

In 2009, the New York Times Magazine published a story about the professional basketball player Shane Battier, dubbed the “No Stats All Star.” In terms of the sport’s most often cited statistics—points, rebounds, assists, steals—Battier was no standout. Nonetheless, each successive team that Battier joined won significantly more games the following season.

Deep Decarbonization and the Paris Aftermath

Implementing utility-scale renewable energy resources will require overcoming se
Monday, July 10, 2017

Despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, U.S. cities and states, as well as nations around the world, remain committed to addressing climate change, in many cases stepping up their efforts. But even had Trump decided otherwise, the Paris Agreement would not do enough to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules That Shale Gas Revenues From State Forests and Parks Must Be Spent on Conservation

A Marcellus shale gas-drilling site along Route 87, Lycoming County, PA.
By James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney; Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program
Wednesday, July 5, 2017

In a landmark decision issued June 20, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court confirmed that Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment, adopted in 1971, creates a “public trust” in Commonwealth resources as the “common property of all the people including generations yet to come.”

Shareholder Engagement Greens Corporations

The New York Stock Exchange, on Wall Street (Photo: Benjamin Dumas).
By Linda Breggin, Senior Attorney; Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sustainable investment firms, state pension plans, and advocacy groups are influencing businesses’ sustainability practices through a variety of shareholder engagement approaches.  A key tool is the shareholder resolution – a proposal put forth by a shareholder or group of shareholders – that is included in a proxy statement and subject to a vote of the corporation’s shareholders.