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This Month's Issue of ELR

Volume [field_article_intvolume_value], Issue [field_article_intissue_value] — September 2021


Governing the Grid: Decarbonization, Energy Security, and Climate Adaptation for the 21st Century

by Nina Pušić, Kathryn F. Penry, Shalaya Morissette, Doug Vine, and Eric Christensen

Visible impacts of climate change, like the unprecedented winter storm in Texas, underscore the need to integrate climate adaptation as a principal factor in energy security. With appropriate weatherization and increased battery storage, many believe that renewables can help assure an energy-secure future that is more resilient to the impacts of climate change. On May 4, 2021, the Environmental Law Institute hosted a panel that explored how to ensure energy grids are fit for these emerging challenges, and how energy law and policy must navigate complex and intersecting governance imperatives. Below, we present a transcript of that discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.


Revisiting the Delta Smelt: A Rebuttal to Weiland and Murphy

by Karrigan Börk, Peter Moyle, John Durand, Tien-Chieh Hung, and Andrew L. Rypel

This Comment responds to a July Comment from Paul Weiland and Dennis Murphy that responded to a September 2020 Comment addressing the challenges of managing small and declining populations of California Delta smelt under the Endangered Species Act and focusing on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's treatment of the species in a recent biological opinion. The Comment asserts that Weiland and Murphy misunderstood the September 2020 Comment's principal arguments and misstated several key points, and responds by clarifying the main points from the authors' original Comment and addressing some specific concerns raised by Weiland and Murphy.

A Cool Climate Strategy: Pairing HFC Reduction and Energy Efficiency

by Rachael Bruketta

When establishing regulations under the Kigali Amendment and the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, and to achieve environmentally and economically effective hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phasedown strategies, this Comment asserts that the United States must consider what climate strategies have worked well in the past. Specifically, it looks at the history of U.S. climate action and presents market-based opportunities to phase down HFCs by providing examples of allowance-and-trading program successes. It also examines how HFC-free and energy-efficient technologies will be economically advantageous for consumers, will be supported by HFC-using industries, and will create employment opportunities; and explores how HFC reduction policies can provide compounded environmental benefits when pairing HFC reduction and energy-efficiency improvements in new, climate-friendly technologies.

China's Corporate Environmental Credit System

by Zhuoshi Liu, Paul Davies, He Zhu, Tianling Ni, Zoe Liu, and James Bee

In 2014, the central government of China announced a plan to create by 2020 a corporate environmental credit system (ECS), an incentive mechanism to deter companies’ environmental violations and promote a culture of environmental law compliance. The ECS was to be implemented at the provincial level, and by the end of 2020, all 31 provinces, provincial-level municipalities, and provincial-level autonomous regions (collectively “provinces”) of mainland China, with the exception of Beijing, had either published their own corporate environmental credit regulations or adopted in practice or via regulation a standard version developed by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. This Comment discusss how evaluation under the ECS generally works at the provincial level and the significant inconsistencies among the provinces regarding important aspects of the ECS, including the scope, methods, results, and incentives.


Using Multilateral Development Banks to Achieve Paris Climate Goals

by Theresa Trillo

Despite the fact that multilateral development banks (MDBs) have been criticized for their unsustainable practices and projects, they can play a key role in tackling climate change. In order to be successful in shaping climate-friendly policies and practices, MDBs must align with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The United States can influence MDBs to align with the Agreement, and the Biden Administration has already taken strides to do so. This Article explores ways in which the Administration can further influence and assist the MDBs in reaching climate goals.

Racial Segregation and Environmental Injustice

by Shannon Roesler

One legacy of the environmental justice movement is documenting the unequal distribution of environmental harms and benefits throughout American society. These inequalities are inscribed in our urban physical spaces by laws and policies designed to exclude African Americans and other minority groups from lands and spaces constructed and preserved for whites only. This Article traces this history, identifying ways in which laws designed to address racial discrimination fail to provide remedies for structural inequalities; and suggests that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s “equal dignity” approach in Obergefell v. Hodges has the potential to be a necessary first step toward redress. The Article is excerpted from the book Environmental Law, Disrupted, to be published by ELI Press later this year.

Six Priority Recommendations for Improving Conservation Under the ESA

by Alejandro E. Camacho and Melissa L. Kelly

Because of persistent legislative attacks on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), some conservationists have made a strategic choice not to propose substantial adjustments to it. But conservation recommendations are long overdue, and improvements to the ESA and its implementing regulations and policies seem more possible in the current political climate. The University of California, Irvine School of Law and the Environmental Policy Innovation Center convened a broad dialogue within the conservation community seeking perspectives on those improvements. This Article summarizes their findings, and recommends both legislative and administrative actions to update the Act and fulfill its conservation goals.

In the Courts

Supreme Court upholds Natural Gas Act condemnation powers.

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In the Courts Archive


In the Agencies

EPA issues semiannual regulatory agenda.

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In the Agencies Archive


In the Congress

The House passed the PFAS Action Act of 2021.

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In the Congress Archive


In the States

Oregon proposes new landfill methane rules.

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In the States Archive