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Vibrant Environment

MBTA Takings: A Bird’s Eye View

Migrating Canada Geese (Pixabay)
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) prohibits the taking and killing of migratory birds. But the statute is silent about indirect or unintentional taking or killing that occurs in connection with an otherwise lawful activity. Dueling DOI Solicitor’s Opinions issued by the Obama and Trump Administrations have only served to highlight the ambiguity in the MBTA’s requirements. In A Pendulum Seldom Stops in the Middle: Shifting Views on “Take” of Raptors and Other Migratory Birds, David Freudenthal (former Governor of Wyoming) and attorneys Steven P. Quarles and Rebecca Barho argue that congressional action ultimately is needed.

Helping NGOs Use Environmental Law to Combat Pollution: ELI Launches Environmental Public Interest Litigation Capacity-Building Project in China

ELI worked with the China Environmental Protection Foundation  and Tianjin Unive
By Zhuoshi Liu, Staff Attorney; Director, China Program
Monday, July 9, 2018

The neck-breaking growth of the Chinese economy since the late 1970s has alleviated hundreds of millions of people from poverty and is one of the biggest economic achievements that the world has ever seen. However, the amazing growth and all of its benefits came at terrible expense to the environment and ecosystems.

Talking Trash About Plastics

Plastic bag or jellyfish? Research suggests there will be more plastic than fish
By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Monday, July 2, 2018

It’s official: China isn’t taking our garbage anymore. Literally. Effective this year, China started restricting the import of 24 types of waste and established new thresholds for contaminants such as food residues and metals. Why does that create a significant problem for the United States? Consider this: China imported 776,000 metric tons of reclaimed plastic and 13 million metric tons of recycled paper from the United States in 2016 alone.

States Craft New Policies for Protecting Indoor Air Quality

Houses along San Francisco street
By Tobie Bernstein, Senior Attorney; Director, Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Program
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

June is National Healthy Homes Month, a good time for policymakers to consider strategies for reducing exposure to air pollutants inside homes. It’s also a good time to highlight new policies in California and New York that aim to improve home indoor air quality and that are likely to have impacts beyond those two states.

Restoring and Protecting Water Quality

ELI organized the 2018 National Training Workshop for CWA 303(d) Listing & TMDL
By Adam Schempp, Senior Attorney; Director, Western Water Program
Monday, June 25, 2018

Restoring and protecting our country’s lakes, rivers, and streams is difficult, especially with populations increasing and budgets in decline. It requires innovation, partnerships, sound science, and effective means of communicating.

ELI has long worked with the agencies tasked with restoring and protecting our waters. Earlier this month, we held the 2018 National Training Workshop for CWA §303(d) Listing and TMDL Staff at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia....

Trust, But Verify: The Need for Demonstrable Disaster Resilience

2017 was one of the costliest hurricane seasons on record (NOAA).
By Jon Philipsborn, Associate Vice President, Climate Adaptation Practice Director, AECOM
Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Early in my career, I was conducting bird research for a very inspiring, but demanding professor. With each bird identification that I brought to him, he would respond with a series of qualifying questions, challenging me to provide sufficient proof that my observations would meet his standards for making a positive identification of whatever species I claimed to have seen. Somewhat over-confident and always eager to report my sightings, his response usually left me unsatisfied, and often frustrated. “Trust but verify,” this professor would always say.

ELI Collaborates With Niue to Help Create One of the World’s Largest MPAs

Niue's Avatele Bay
By Xiao Recio-Blanco, Director, Ocean Program
Monday, June 18, 2018

One of the highlights of the 2017 Our Ocean Conference in Malta was the announcement made by Minister for Natural Resources Hon. Dalton Tagelagi that Niue, a small island nation in the South Pacific Ocean, would create a new, large marine protected area to adequately conserve the unique marine biodiversity in Niuean waters.

U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Ninth Circuit’s Decision in Barrier Culverts Case

Coho Salmon in Washington (Photo: BLM)
By J. Nathanael Watson, Of Counsel, Stoel Rives LLP
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

On June 11, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 4-4 per curium decision (Justice Anthony Kennedy was recused) affirming the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Washington v. United States, often referred to as the “culverts case.” 

Every tribe, person, public utility, municipality, state, or developer that has an interest in water rights or projects that impact salmon should pay attention to the Court’s ruling in the culverts case—and work with counsel to prepare your strategy for productive engagement to resolve these issues before they lead to expensive bet-the-farm litigation.

Connecting the Dots: ELI Discussion Series Helps Align Impact Assessment with Environmental Compliance and Enforcement

The Mekong River flows through 6 countries, creating significant transboundary E
By Emmett McKinney, Former Research Associate
Monday, June 11, 2018

Environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA), as well as compliance and enforcement, form two essential pillars in the foundation of sustainable development. To produce lasting benefits, these systems must work in tandem. As the Secretariat for the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement, ELI brought together over 160 people from 31 countries to exchange ideas on how to strengthen and harmonize these two frameworks. The presentations and recordings are available on the INECE website, here.

A Hard Look’s Gonna Come: The Energy Executive Order, NEPA, and the Social Cost of Carbon

The social cost of carbon quantifies the economic impact of greenhouse gas emiss
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

In March of last year, President Trump issued fossil-fuel friendly Executive Order No. 13783, Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. Section 5 of this Order directed agencies to discontinue use of the “social cost of carbon” (SCC), a protocol developed under the Obama Administration to monetize the impacts of climate-related disasters and disruption.