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Vibrant Environment

Heading Down Different Paths: An Update on PFAS Regulatory Developments in Northeastern States and at the Federal Level

water
David McSweeney
Gregory Wall
Michael Altieri
Monday, October 19, 2020

In May 2016, EPA issued a lifetime Health Advisory (HA) of 70 parts per trillion (0.07 ug/L) for the combination of two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals, PFOS and PFOA, in drinking water. EPA’s HA is not enforceable or regulatory—it provides technical information to state agencies and other public health officials on health effects, analytical methodologies, and treatment technologies associated with drinking water contamination. In EPA’s subsequent 2019 PFAS Action Plan, EPA noted that over 4,000 PFAS may have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the world since they were first synthesized in the 1940s. Because PFAS are water soluble, over time PFAS from firefighting foam, manufacturing sites, landfills, spills, air deposition from factories and other releases can seep into surface soils and potentially percolate into groundwater, thus implicating drinking water sources. 

Remembering Justice Ginsburg, An Environmental Champion

rbg
Robert Percival
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The untimely death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a sharp setback for environ­mental protection law. The Court loses the justice who had been the most sympathetic to environ­mental concerns during her more than 27 years on the highest court of the land. Her greatest achieve­ment on behalf of the environment was her majority opinion in 2000 in Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw En­vironmental Services. This decision slammed the brakes on Justice An­tonin Scalia’s long-time campaign to deny environmentalists standing to sue.

Discounting Benefits of Saving Human Life

money
Stephen R. Dujack
Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler proudly details the administration’s deregulatory record in a Newsweek opinion article published in late July. He frames his success story within President Trump’s January 2017 executive order requiring agencies to eliminate two regulations for each new one. While Wheeler touts the avoided costs, he doesn’t mention the avoided benefits the repealed rules would have provided.

Still Much We Do Not Know: Climate Uncertainty and Adaptive Management in the Gulf of Mexico

hurricane
Dominic Scicchitano
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported in August that this year’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone was unexpectedly small—in fact, the third-smallest ever measure in the 34-year record. Interestingly, this comes just two months after NOAA had forecasted a larger-than-average dead zone in early June. The cause of this shift appears to be Hurricane Hanna, whose large, powerful waves agitated the water column, disrupting algal accumulation in the Gulf.

The Real Propaganda on Race

leaf
Scott Fulton
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

It’s easy to grow numb in the face of the parade of problems our country has been experiencing, but news of the Trump Administration’s recent decision to defund diversity training across the federal government and to try to prevent federal contractors and grantees from engaging in such training jolted me with the force of a defibrillator. It is shocking that in the midst of a period of the worst racial unrest in many decades, this is what the Administration is bringing forward.

Environmental Justice Faces Fresh Obstacles

Forest
Scott Fulton
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

As the country wrestles with racial justice issues, driven both by police atrocities and the uneven distribution of COVID-19 infection and deaths, it’s time for renewed focus on environmental justice. The quest for EJ remains perhaps the most challenging unsolved problem in the environmental arena. And until we arrive at a place where environmental benefits and burdens are both more equally distributed across society, EJ will remain a problem that differentially compromises not only quality of life, but also health and resilience in the face of maladies like the coronavirus.

What Did CEQ Do?

White House
James M. McElfish, Jr.
Monday, September 14, 2020

Acting in response to Executive Order No. 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) rewrote the governmentwide regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) this year. CEQ published its proposal to substantially amend the NEPA rule on January 10, 2020, and published its final rule on July 16, 2020 (85 Fed. Reg. 43304). The new rule becomes effective today, September 14, 2020, and CEQ added language to the final rule to provide that it will apply directly to federal agency actions and preempt all “inconsistent” agency procedures as of that date.

A Road Map to Net-Zero? BLM’s Authority to Mitigate Climate Change on Public Lands

Public land
ELR Staff
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Almost one-quarter of all U.S. CO2 emissions come from fossil fuels extracted from public lands. Producing more than 274 million barrels of oil, 3.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas, and 302 million tons of coal each year, BLM’s management decisions have a significant impact on climate change. In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, authors Jamie Gibbs Pleune, John Ruple, and Nada Wolff Culver argue that the Bureau has not only the authority, but a legal duty to mitigate climate change in its permitting decisions. Using existing legal structures, they provide a road map for requiring all new BLM oil and gas development to achieve net-zero emissions.

The Trade of Bats: Current Issues and Potential Solutions

Bat
Laura Cadot
Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The trade of bats is an issue that has been brought to the forefront during COVID-19, a zoonotic disease outbreak that likely originated in wildlife trade and may even be linked to bats. However, we still lack sufficient understanding of the issues involved with bat trade at both the national and international levels.

Forests of the Tide: Mangrove Trees, Blue Carbon Sequestration, and the Need for Mangrove Policy and Protection in Indonesia

Lauren Gode
Thursday, August 27, 2020

From land, the small, shrub-like mangrove trees that line tropical coastlines appear rather ordinary—a closer look, however, tells a completely different story. Hidden underwater, mangrove trees have spindly roots overflowing with marine biodiversity. These roots allow mangroves to survive in brackish coastal waters, an environment most trees could never tolerate. Just like their peculiar beauty, mangroves’ importance in the global carbon cycle is also widely overlooked. Mangroves are critical blue carbon sequesters, storing thousands of tons of carbon dioxide in their oxygen-poor soil.

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