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This Month's Issue of ELR

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


The Future of Pipelines

by Chandler Randol, Kamilah L. Jones, Alexandra B. Klass, Jan Hasselman, and Thomas C. Jensen

New oil and gas pipeline construction is increasingly controversial, with environmental and indigenous groups warning of leaks and spills, increased reliance on fossil fuels, and infringement upon indigenous land. Recent setbacks to three projects—the Dakota Access Pipeline, Keystone XL Pipeline, and Atlantic Coast Pipeline—reflect shifting legal, economic, and policy pressures facing new construction. On September 30, 2020, the Environmental Law Institute hosted a panel of experts who explored the emerging challenges facing oil and gas pipelines and discussed their future. Below, we present a transcript of the discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.


Safeguarding Against Distortions of Scientific Research in Federal Policymaking

by Melissa L. Kelly, Genna Reed, Gretchen T. Goldman, and Jacob M. Carter

The appropriate use of science in policymaking depends upon integrity in scientific research and in the ways in which that research is communicated and applied throughout the policymaking process. On May 22, 2019, the University of California, Irvine School of Law’s Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources (CLEANR) and the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) convened a roundtable that brought together leading scientists, scholars, advocates, and policymakers to explore potential safeguards to protect scientific research and its use in federal policymaking. Based on the discussions at that roundtable, CLEANR and UCS offered recommendations for the executive branch, the U.S. Congress, and federal agencies to better protect against conflicts of interest, and to secure and advance the role of science in policymaking. This Comment expands upon the recommendations CLEANR and UCS proposed in the September 2020 fact sheet, Conflicts of Interest at Federal Agencies: Recommendations for 2021 and Beyond.

An Enduring American Heritage: A Substantive Due Process Right to Public Wild Lands

by Ariel Strauss

I magine, on account of an economic downturn associated with massive defense spending, or a change in regulatory philosophy, or a pandemic, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation duly signed by the president to sell virtually all federal wild lands to the highest bidder without restriction. Would such action be constitutional? The principles behind this question are now of monumental importance. In the absence of significant changes in federal land management practices and a coordinated program to reverse the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, several studies predict that significant portions of the nation’s wild lands will be irreparably and drastically altered from their historic natural state. This Comment explores the connection between wild lands and our scheme of ordered liberty, discusses the deep and evolving history and tradition of federal wild land preservation, explains the justification for recognizing an affirmative right, and offers preliminary observations on standards for evaluating the right.


Measuring Environmental Justice: Analysis of Progress Under Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump

by Mollie Soloway

President Donald Trump’s environmental policies appear detrimental to the environmental justice (EJ) movement, but little work has been done to test their true impact on EJ. This Article offers a method for evaluating progress (or lack thereof) across the last three presidential administrations, proposing three metrics for progress: access to legal recourse, consideration of climate change as an EJ issue, and signaling actions. Using Robert Kuehn’s taxonomy of EJ, it concludes that while not much may be said to have actually been gained or lost in terms of distributive or corrective justice, significant progress was made toward procedural and social justice under President Barack Obama and lost under President Trump. This comparison helps to resolve competing narratives and provides a framework to encourage further comparisons across additional metrics.

Governing the Gasoline Spigot: Gas Stations and the Transition Away From Gasoline

by Matthew N. Metz and Janelle London

Gas stations are America’s largest carbon spigot, a leading source of neighborhood-based pollution, and a sacred cow. This Article takes a comprehensive look at gas stations through the lens of the climate crisis and the rise of electric vehicles, and proposes steps to improve and shrink the country’s gas station network in an environmentally and fiscally prudent manner. It argues that state and local government should regulate gas stations to advance their climate goals, reduce pollution of air, soil, and groundwater, improve public health, and save taxpayers money. They should require them to clean up their contaminated soils, install modern tanks and piping, and abide by strict limits on carcinogenic benzene emissions. They should also halt construction of new gas stations and eliminate subsidies for existing ones.

In the Courts

First Circuit remands Rhode Island climate suit to state court.

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In the Courts Archive

In the Agencies

EPA revises CAA New Source Review regulations.

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In the Agencies Archive

In the Congress

America’s Conservation Enhancement Act signed into law.

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In the States

California's State Water Resources Control Board proposed to amend its total coliform rule.

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In the States Archive