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This Month's Issue of ELR

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


Single-Use Plastics and the Pandemic

by Chandler Randol, Martin Bourque, Nicole E. Bothwell, Nick Mallos, and Rachel A. Meidl

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the balance between sustainability and human safety on a global scale. After more than six years of momentum for banning a variety of single-use plastic types, the pandemic brought many of these achievements to a standstill. On December 15, 2020, the Environmental Law Institute hosted a panel of experts that explored the pandemic’s repercussions for overconsumption of single-use plastics. This Dialogue presents a transcript of the discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.


Functional Equivalency? Assessing Groundwater Discharges Under County of Maui

by Steven L. Hoch, Philip T. Tringale, Dorinda Shipman, and Elizabeth Kimbrel

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund on April 23, 2020. Until then, there was a split among the circuit courts as to whether discharges to navigable waters through groundwater are regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The impact of this issue could be widespread, possibly bringing many more water-related projects into the CWA process. As a result of the Court’s decision, the issue may require additional time to proceed through the regulatory process. It could also set the stage for additional litigation over the environmental impact of a facility and thus delay construction and increase the cost.


Using Blockchain to Address the IPCC’S Climate Change Mitigation Strategies

by Grace Bogart

Many believe blockchain technologies (BCTs) will soon permeate our lives. In particular, they can be utilized to help tackle global climate change. This Article provides a baseline description of BCTs, and ways they can be utilized to reduce GHG emissions in electricity and energy generation; agriculture, forestry, and other land use; industry; and transport. It addresses BCTs’ potentially carbon-intensive nature, identifies ways to utilize them in a less energy-intensive manner, and discusses currently implemented and potential ways in which BCTs can be harnessed to mitigate the main causes of climate change.

The Supreme Court Opens a Door in ARCO v. Christian, Part Two

by Charles Openchowski

In its Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the timing of judicial review in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), as well as landowners’ status as potentially responsible parties for property within the boundaries of a Superfund site. The Court, however, left preemption issues raised by the parties for another day. This Article analyzes the opinion in light of the site’s long history, and offers insights on how it might affect the federal cleanup program going forward. The first part, last issue, described the response actions that have been taken, as well as the litigation brought by landowners seeking more remediation. The second part, below, focuses on the role of state law and how it can serve as a platform for enhancing CERCLA cleanups.

Making America A Better Place for All: Sustainable Development Recommendations for the Biden Administration

by John C. Dernbach and Scott E. Schang

In 2015, the United Nations Member States, including the United States, unanimously approved 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. The SDGs are nonbinding; each nation is to implement them based on its own priorities and circumstances. This Article argues that the SDGs are a critical normative framework the United States should use to improve human quality of life, freedom, and opportunity by integrating economic and social development with environmental protection. It collects the recommendations of 21 experts on steps that the Biden-Harris Administration should take now to advance each of the SDGs. It is part of a book project that will recommend not only federal actions, but also actions by state and local governments, the private sector, and civil society. In the face of multiple challenges and opportunities, this Article is intended to contribute to a robust public discussion about how to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society and make America a better place for all.

In the Courts

D.C. Circuit vacated three provisions of EPA’s 2018 rule implementing NAAQS for ozone.

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In the Courts Archive


In the Agencies

CEQ rescinds draft NEPA guidance on greenhouse gases.

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In the Agencies Archive


In the Congress

Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a bill to establish a National Climate Bank.

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In the Congress Archive


In the States

New York DEC proposes to ban chlorpyrifos.

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In the States Archive