ELI Primary Menu

Skip to main content

Vibrant Environment

Cutting the NEPA Rules’ Gordian Knot

Knotted rope
By James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney; Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program
Tuesday, December 22, 2020

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) administration is in a serious tangle, given new Trump Administration regulations, the long-standing procedures administered by scores of federal agencies, and inconsistent environmental review obligations depending on various dates. This knot, like the legendary knot of King Gordias, is not easily unraveled. But it is not impossible.

Advancing Human Rights-Based Approaches and Conflict Sensitivity in Forest Monitoring and Management

Tropical forest
By Emily Donegan, National Forest Monitoring, FAO, and Julian Fox, Team Leader, National Forest Monitoring, FAO
Monday, December 21, 2020

Harbouring the vast majority of life on Earth, forests are a vital natural resource that provide ecosystem services essential for life and livelihoods. Forests are sources of important raw materials such as timber, wood fuel, and non-timber-forest products. However, competition to access forests, like many natural resources, is often a motive for human conflict. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that in the last 60 years, at least 40 percent of all intrastate conflicts have had a link to natural resources.

EPA at Its 50th Anniversary: Remembering the Early Days

United States Capitol
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, December 16, 2020

In observing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 50th anniversary, I have a few early-days reflections. I had my first brush with EPA while in law school, when I drafted South Carolina’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Interim Status and Part B regulations. “Drafting” is somewhat generous, as my work was primarily cutting and pasting the EPA rules that were set up to apply in the absence of state program authorization and conforming them, and their corresponding preambles, to the South Carolina context. But it was a meaningful baptism into the complexity of EPA’s work within the labyrinth that is the Federal Register. In my last year of law school, I was accepted under the honors program at the U.S. Department of Justice, and was soon off to work as a trial attorney in their Environmental Enforcement Section. My primary client? EPA.

Reasserting Tribal Forest Management Under Good Neighbor Authority

Forest
By Cynthia R. Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Monday, December 14, 2020

Earlier this year, the Environmental Law Institute hosted a webinar on cultural fire management—just prior to yet another devastating fire season across the West Coast of the United States. The discussion highlighted the millennia of Indigenous peoples’ sustainable forest management practices, drawing a sharp contrast with the consequences of over a century of federal fire-suppression policy, now exacerbated by climate change. That discussion now prompts a deeper conversation about options available to Indigenous tribes for regaining their stewardship role over forest resources on their traditional lands.

Climate Justice and the Role of State Climate Litigation

Gavel
By Akielly Hu, Associate Editor
Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The principles of climate justice state that those who are least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, both globally and in the United States, are the ones most affected by the adverse effects of climate change. In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, environmental justice pioneer Barry Hill examines a variety of legal doctrines that states can use to litigate fossil fuel companies to address climate injustices, using Rhode Island v. Chevron Corp. as a model.

"The Ultimate Eco-Catastrophe”

Atom
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The biggest machine ever built is run by a consortium of European governments called CERN. Its Large Hadron Collider accelerates heavy subatomic particles at near light speed around a circle 17 miles in circumference before smashing them together. Scientists then study the remains and obtain important clues about how the universe works.

COVID-19 and the Future of Environmental Law

face mask
By Akielly Hu, Associate Editor
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered profound changes to our everyday lives and economy that will have both immediate and long-term impacts on environmental law. In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, Arden Rowell explores the implications of these changes for environmental law, and argues that grappling with them as the pandemic progresses may help lawmakers develop more effective strategies for environmental regulation.

Citizen Science: Concepts and Applications

globe
By Celine Yang, Research and Publications Intern, ELI
Friday, November 13, 2020

The first session of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) six-part citizen science webinar series explored the current and potential uses of citizen/community science initiatives to improve environmental monitoring, compliance, and enforcement around the world. Citizen science encompasses a broad range of activities, ranging from the use of low-cost hand-held air monitors by individuals to sophisticated, university-based monitoring networks and satellite monitoring plans by large environmental NGOs. These activities can raise awareness of environmental issues, inform agency actions including compliance and enforcement programs, and inform citizen litigation to stop polluting activities.

A Deeper Dive Into Protections for Deep-Sea Mining

jellyfish
By Kristine Perry, Staff Attorney
Monday, November 9, 2020

For the past few decades, it has seemed as if deep-sea mining was going to happen any minute. Or any year. The world is much closer to deep-sea mining than it was before, but that doesn’t mean countries, companies, or technology are any more ready to take on the challenge and unexpected impacts of this largely unknown area.

Beyond Greenwashing: Paths Toward Sustainability in the Fashion Industry (Part 2)

towels
By Amy Liang, Development Intern, ELI
Monday, November 2, 2020

Part 1 of this blog presented the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry, and argued for structural changes to address sustainability beyond greenwashing. Part 2 presents potential paths toward sustainability in the fashion industry.