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Vibrant Environment

Microgrids, Distributed Energy, and Resilience

Destruction of the energy infrastructure on the island of Dominica, following Hu
By Miriam Aczel, Visiting Researcher, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Four months after Category 5 Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico causing catastrophic damage, much of the island is still without power, food, and water. The storm knocked out power to almost all the commonwealth—homes, schools, hospitals, and other critical services and infrastructure were left without power. Even now, over one-third of the island is still without electricity, and many are left without access to food and running water.

Looking at Land Restoration as a Carbon Removal Solution

Restoration of forests is one promising approach to carbon dioxide removal.
By Serena Choi, Research and Publications Intern
Monday, January 29, 2018

With the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal to keep average global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, governments across the world are struggling to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions voluntarily and collectively. Some have described this challenge as a prisoner’s dilemma. Removing carbon from the atmosphere may be the key to escape.

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.” 

State Policies Are Still Needed to Reduce Radon Risk

Radon can enter homes in numerous ways (Photo: US EPA)
By Tobie Bernstein, Senior Attorney; Director, Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Program
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January is National Radon Action Month, a good time for policymakers to consider what action they can take to address one of the most important—and preventable—indoor health risks facing their constituents. Radon is responsible for around 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year. That makes it the second leading cause of lung cancer overall and the leading cause among non-smokers, according to EPA.

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.

Public Participation in Federal Land Management: Is Innovation Still Possible?

Western states have been at the forefront of the debate about federal land manag
Monday, January 8, 2018

Federal public lands account for 47% of the American West, and more than 90% of all federal land is found in the 11 westernmost states and Alaska. Between them, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management administer about 34% of the western landscape, including almost 85% of Nevada; more than 50% of Idaho, Oregon, and Utah; and more than 40% of the land in four other western states. The appropriate use, management, and ownership of these lands have been the subject of heated debate since they were first established, and the debate has anything but waned since President Trump took office. 

James W. Rubin, Esq.—A Life Well Lived

In Remembrance of Jim Rubin
By Ignacia S. Moreno, CEO & Principal, The iMoreno Group, PLC, Ethan G. Shenkman, Partner, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, Russell F. Smith III , Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Fisheries, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2010-2017., and Tseming Yang, Professor of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

At James W. Rubin’s memorial service on November 4, 2017, a vast network of friends and colleagues remembered him for his brilliant mind, relentless spirit, infectious sense of humor, and unwavering dedication to his family. The four of us consider ourselves fortunate to have worked closely with Jim at the U.S. Department of Justice in the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) and to be his friends.

2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

As we get ready to ring in the New Year, the editors of Vibrant Environment thought it might be nice to take a look back at some of the work ELI did in 2017.

By far the biggest news story here in the United States was the arrival of the Trump Administration. In response to the growing demand for unbiased answers and analysis on how deregulatory initiatives by the new Administration and Congress will impact environmental protection, governance, and the rule of law, ELI released a special report, Regulatory Reform in the Trump Era

Ninth Circuit Reinforces Executive Power to Withdraw Public Lands From Mining Extraction

The Colorado River, Grand Canyon
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Following President Trump’s announcement that he was reducing the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, there have been questions as to the extent of the executive branch’s power to manage federal lands. The announcement has put the Antiquities Act, which grants the president the authority to protect federal lands, under a microscope. Recently, two cases concerning the U.S.