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Vibrant Environment

COVID-19 and Black Communities

By Lovinia Reynolds , Policy Analyst and Environmental Justice Coordinator
Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Black people are bearing the brunt of COVID-19’s impact. Cities such as the District of Columbia, Milwaukee, and St. Louis and states such as Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, and Mississippi have released data demonstrating that Black people make up a disproportionate number of COVID-19-related deaths. These deaths are due in no small part to centuries of structural inequality that limit access to what public health experts call the social determinants of health.

Clear Corona Skies: Air Quality in the United States During a Global Pandemic

By Caitlin F. McCarthy, Director, Education, Associates and Corporate Partnerships
Monday, April 27, 2020

With the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day still on our minds, air quality is thriving throughout the United States’ most populous areas. It is a goal long fought for by leaders in environmental law and policy, but it has only been achieved with the cost of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.

What Judges Are Saying About Climate Science

By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, April 22, 2020

It’s amazing how quickly humanity’s concern can shift when circumstanc­es demand it, and the coronavirus pandemic has riveted our attention. Even today, Earth Day, talking about anything else risks seeming detached or indifferent to the enormous suffering, disruption, and dislocation that the COVID-19 vi­rus has unleashed on the world. But I need to alert you to a new ELI report analyzing the other major challenge that will be waiting for us on the other side of our current crisis, one that, like the pandemic, is deeply informed by science.

COVID-19’s Breath of Fresh Air: Pandemic Gives China and California Blue-Sky Glimpse of a Low-Emission Future

By Zhuoshi Liu, Staff Attorney; Director, China Program, Cynthia R. Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs, and Akielly Hu, Research Associate
Monday, April 20, 2020

Nearly four billion people worldwide are under government mandates to socially distance themselves from one another in order to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19. Non-essential workers are hunkering down at home, bringing the daily commute and air travel to a virtual halt. The resulting decline in air pollution is stunning, visible even in satellite images.

Public Nuisance Lawsuits May Mitigate Meat Industry’s Environmental Impact

By Micah Bradley, Vanderbilt Law School 3L, Member of Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review Class, and Linda Breggin, Senior Attorney; Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

In “Animal Agriculture Liability for Climatic Nuisance: A Path Forward for Climate Change Litigation?,” Prof. Daniel E. Walters lays out a new path for climate litigation: environmental litigators should bring federal public nuisance suits to remedy environmental harms caused by animal agriculture.

Turning A Blind Eye to Drinking Water Risks

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Drinking water contamination in Flint, Michigan, has garnered nationwide attention, but it is neither isolated, nor a primarily urban problem. As Madeline Kane explains in the April issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, a hidden water crisis is straining thousands of smaller communities that share Flint’s risk factors—shrinking populations, social marginalization, and deficient funds.

Earth Day 1970: A Look Back at Student Activism and Freedom of the Press

1970s
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Wednesday, April 1, 2020

It is now half a century since the first Earth Day. Not only did I help run our school’s “teach in” in 1970, it is also 50 years since my entrance into environmental journalism. A first-person history may help to affirm the importance of the environmental protections that soon followed, as well as of a robust student press to push today’s issues.

What’s for Lunch on Doomsday?

Svalbard Global Seed Vault
By Gesine Åström, Visiting Scholar
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Have you ever heard about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault? It might look like something from the future, but this very important structure can be found today roughly 1,300 kilometers (about 800 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, blasted 130 meters (roughly 430 feet) deep into a mountain. Designed to withstand doomsday scenarios, what valuable treasures might such a building hold? The answer is simple but may be surprising: seeds!

How Mandatory Are China’s Local Environmental Standards?

By Zhuoshi Liu, Staff Attorney; Director, China Program
Monday, March 23, 2020

Since China strengthened its environmental enforcement efforts in 2014, the quality of the country’s environment has been gradually improving. At the same time, however, many regulated businesses are finding it difficult to comply with the increasingly stringent local environmental standards imposed by local regulators.

Charles Lee: Charting a Path Forward for Environmental Justice

smokestack sunset
Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Over the past few years, considerable energy has been devoted toward advancing environmental justice (EJ) at the state level. State agencies can be robust laboratories for experimenting with ways to advance EJ, as they’re often tasked with making decisions under state and federal environmental law. As EJ pioneer Charles Lee explains in the March issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, state lessons can cross-fertilize and inform work at other levels of government, and the role of nongovernmental players is also critical to driving transformative change. Lee believes it is essential that those working to advance EJ systemically expand their discourse.