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Volume 48, Issue 1 — January 2018


Floodplain Buyouts: How Local Governments Can Maximize Community Benefits, Habitat Connectivity, and Resilience

by Rebecca Kihslinger and David Salvesen

Since 1993, FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has funded the acquisition of over 37,000 flood-damaged properties. On these purchased properties, existing structures must be removed and the land dedicated to open space, recreational, or wetland management uses. Communities can restore and permanently protect these properties to provide natural habitats and help conserve biodiversity, while also providing amenities and improving resilience. Local governments usually oversee these buyouts, and ultimately take on the ownership of the sites with little or no funding for restoration or management, or guidance on maximizing long-term benefits. This Article highlights communities across the country that have established programmatic and management structures for floodplain buyouts to make the most of acquired properties. It offers practical, implementable recommendations on how to optimize use and management of buyout properties to provide habitat and improve community resilience.

The Role of Energy Efficiency in Deep Decarbonization

by Kit Kennedy

The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project Report calls for major increases in building and equipment efficiency to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. While the U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards program is one of the most successful U.S. policies in driving energy savings, carbon reductions, and consumer savings, it will need to be made even stronger, and an integrated suite of additional and more ambitious energy-efficiency laws and regulations at the federal, state, and local level will be needed to meet this goal. Additional action from private actors, such as utilities and businesses, will also be necessary. This Article, excerpted from Michael B. Gerrard & John C. Dernbach, eds., Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States (forthcoming in 2018 from ELI Press), discusses the various legal and policy pathways at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that the energy efficiency of residential, commercial, and industrial products continues to improve at the scale and speed necessary to meet the “80% by 2050” goal.


Whither Public Participation in Federal Land Management? Replicating Homegrown Innovations in Shared Problem Solving

by Matthew McKinney

The Trump Administration’s initial approach to federal land policy raises some long-standing, fundamental questions about the role of public participation and intergovernmental coordination in federal land management. Whether intentional or not, key administrative moves give the impression that it is trying to limit public participation as the Administration's priority is energy and natural resource development over conservation. The core argument of this Comment is that, despite the current political climate and its impact on public participation and intergovernmental coordination, there are a number of innovative and effective efforts in shared problem solving emerging organically across the landscape. In sum, how can we move from the conventional approaches to public participation that revolve around citizens and stakeholders providing “input and advice” to a system that puts a premium on “shared problem solving”?


CERCLA Regulatory Challenges and Changes—What to Expect in 2018

by Scott Fulton, William H. Hyatt Jr., and Irene Kropp

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, requires responsible parties to clean up and remediate contaminated sites. Many states have similar local requirements. In the 35 years since the law was passed, there has been much discussion of reforming CERCLA, but has anything yet changed, and how might it change under the new presidential administration? On October 12, 2017, ELI convened a panel in Newark, New Jersey, to discuss these questions, current regulatory developments, and approaches to working with regulatory agencies on site cleanup issues. In this Dialogue, ELR presents a transcript of the panel, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.