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Vibrant Environment

Water Act Rule Poses Challenges for States

Rebecca L. Kihslinger
James M. McElfish, Jr.
Monday, January 27, 2020

On January 23, 2020, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a final Navigable Waters Protection Rule to redefine “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). This new rule repeals a Reagan-era definition rule and adopts an even more limited definition of the waters of the United States that are subject to the federal Clean Water Act.

Solving the Plastic Packaging Problem

ELR Staff
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The packaging industry faces mounting shareholder and public pressure to reduce the environmental impact of plastic. The recycled plastics market in the United States is positioned for growth, but developing a reliable supply of post-consumer plastics will be costly. Reliance on export markets has limited investment in domestic recycling capacity, local collection programs vary considerably, and many consumers are ignorant about what can and cannot be recycled. The low cost of manufacturing virgin plastics compounds these challenges.

2020 Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review Winners Announced

Anna Beeman
Linda Breggin
Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Each year, the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review (ELPAR)—a collaboration between Vanderbilt University Law School (VULS) and ELI—identifies articles that propose innovative law and policy approaches to pressing environmental problems. This year's awardees propose creative approaches to a range of cutting-edge environmental issues:

Portable Electronic Devices in Hazardous Areas

Digital Multimeter
Gayle Nicoll
Monday, January 13, 2020

There are plenty of blog posts stating portable electronic devices (PEDs) and industrial settings don’t mix, but most are about distracted working: PED use is unsafe because employees are distracted and unfocused and accidents can happen. That’s not this post. Instead, I want to talk about the legal and safety challenges that pose liabilities when PEDs are intentionally used as part of the work environment—especially within designated hazardous environments.

Federal Court Applies Environmental Justice

Photo by Caitlin Morris.
James M. McElfish, Jr.
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, explicitly relied on environmental justice (EJ) concepts to vacate and remand a Virginia state air pollution permit for a compressor facility associated with an interstate natural gas pipeline. This is one of only a very few federal court decisions to address EJ expressly, and is noteworthy because of its explicit application of EJ elements.

E-commerce and the Environment

Dave Rejeski
Monday, January 6, 2020

After almost getting hit by an Amazon Prime truck as I wandered around Greenwich Village, I started to look around at what was piling up in the foyers of posh condos and on the steps of the venerable brownstones. Maybe lying under these mountains of cardboard was a first edition of The Call of the Wild off eBay, but I doubted it.

The Paris Agreement, Climate Engineering, and an Uncertain Future

ELR Staff
Monday, December 30, 2019

In early December, delegates from around the world convened in Madrid for the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 25). They celebrated the 2nd meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement, aiming to complete the Paris Agreement rulebook.

NEPA: Time for a Tune-Up

Dava Kaitala
John Lovenburg
Friday, December 27, 2019

The passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was a seminal moment in the history of U.S. environmental federal policy, advancing protection of the environment in decisionmaking. Unfortunately, the process has become increasingly cumbersome, lengthy, and frustrating to many parties.  Moving forward, an improved focus on the quality and alignment of decisions is needed.

Building on the Past to Secure the Future

Scott Fulton
Monday, December 23, 2019

The Environmental Law Institute’s 50th anniversary on December 22 occured during a record-breaking year in terms of the sheer number of ELI educational and convening programs, which have been organized around the themes that continue to animate the work of environmental protection after half a century.

NEPA 50 Years Later: Where Do We Go From Here? (Looking Back to Move Forward)

Brenda Mallory
Friday, December 20, 2019

January 1, 2020, will mark the 50th anniversary of the National Environmental Policy Act and the launch of modern environmental law. In 1970, NEPA represented great hope and promise for a sustainable environment; it provided an environmental vision for a federal decisionmaking process grounded in thoughtful, science-based analysis of impacts, broad public engagement, careful consideration of alternatives, and mitigation to avoid the worst effects.

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