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Vibrant Environment

What We Learned From COVID-19: Opportunities for Reframing Environmental Law

Earth covered by COVID-19
ELR Staff
Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Already under ever-increasing threats from climate change, the world faced another crisis in 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic. A public health emergency of this scale requires swift and effective policy action—but in many cases, the United States fell short, revealing ongoing failures to address systemic injustices exacerbated by the disease. In this month’s issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, members of the Environmental Law Collaborative, an affiliation of environmental law professors, examine the country’s legal responses to COVID-19, offering thoughts about pandemic ripple effects and their implications for environmental policy, as well as potential opportunities going forward. The article is excerpted from their book, Environmental Law, Disrupted, to be published by ELI Press later this year.

Leveraging Federal Relief Funds to Create Healthier Schools

Apple on stack of books
Tobie Bernstein
Jessica Sugarman
Wednesday, June 9, 2021

As summer approaches, school systems throughout the United States are planning for in-person and hybrid learning next fall. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Congress has appropriated $190 billion to assist those efforts; the recent American Rescue Plan Act alone provides around $122 billion for PK-12 public education.

Tying the West’s Energy Knot: Challenges and Recommendations in Interstate Transmission Siting (Part 3)

Solar voltaic system
Nareg Kuyumjian
Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Parts One and Two of this blog series covered the debate and regulatory framework regarding interstate electricity transmission. Part Three will conclude the series by identifying key challenges energy policymakers should expect to face regarding interstate transmission siting, and policy recommendations on how to mitigate them.

When in Doubt, Reach Out: The Role of Environmental Ombudsmen in Compliance Assistance

Leaves of an oak tree
Kevin Si
Friday, May 28, 2021

Local and tribal governments are on the hook to meet a multitude of environmental requirements. Consider the effort needed to comply with NPDES permitting requirements for municipal wastewater and stormwater facilities, drinking water standards for public water systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and regulations governing municipal landfills under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, to name just a few. Hard-working officials and environmental managers must ensure that these requirements are met, often with their agencies strapped for funding and operating with a limited staff.

Now Is the Time to Address the Hidden Health Risks of Home Cooking

Cooking over a stove top, Joshua Resnick/shutterstock.com
Amy Reed
Monday, May 17, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has focused increased attention on indoor air quality and ventilation. Yet, many people remain unaware of the health risks posed by an activity that occurs every day in their homes: cooking.

Tying the West’s Energy Knot: The Regulatory Framework of Interstate Electricity Transmission (Part 2)

Wind mills at sunset
Nareg Kuyumjian
Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Part One of this blog series discussed interstate electricity transmission as an integral part of grid resilience through a California and Western EIM case study. Part Two builds on this background by evaluating the regulatory framework that underpins the division of transmission siting authority and analyzing its legal implications.

Tying the West’s Energy Knot: Interstate Transmission Development (Part 1)

Solar photovoltaic panels
Nareg Kuyumjian
Monday, May 10, 2021

Last August, over half a million California residents simultaneously lost power during the state’s first rolling blackout in 20 years. Critics of renewable energy have pointed to California’s recent gains in wind and solar power penetration to argue that the large-scale outage suggests a correlation between increased variable renewable energy and increased grid vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, in an analysis released in January, CAISO, California’s energy market operator, attributed the large-scale outage to a climate change-induced heat wave, which led electricity demand to exceed existing resource adequacy. In the same report, CAISO proposes “consideration of transmission build out” to overcome transmission constraints across multiple interstate electricity lines as a key to preventing future outages. Whether and how to move electrons across state borders, however, has been at the center of California’s energy transition debate for years.

NEPA Compliance and Litigation: Maybe Not as Burdensome as Some Think

Courthouse
Hallie Ruttum
Linda Breggin
Wednesday, May 5, 2021

In “Measuring the NEPA Litigation Burden: A Review of 1,499 Federal Court Cases,” Prof. John C. Ruple and Kayla M. Race quantitatively demonstrate that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance and litigation burdens may be overstated—findings they argue should inform any revisions to NEPA. The article was originally published in Lewis & Clark Law School’s Environmental Law in 2020. The piece was also selected as a top 20 article for the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review in 2020, an ELI-Vanderbilt Law School project that identifies innovative environmental law and policy proposals each year.

Groundbreaking Releases of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Hold Enormous Promise for Public Health Worldwide

Mosquito on leaf
Keith A. Matthews
Monday, May 3, 2021

Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, Zika, Yellow Feverwhat do all these diseases have in common? They are caused by viruses that enter human bloodstreams via mosquito bites. The culprit that transmits these viruses is the Aedes aegypti mosquito. On April 26, Wiley Rein LLP client Oxitec, Ltd.

Another Successful Western Boot Camp on Environmental Law

Gavel and textbooks
Cora Martin
Monday, April 26, 2021

This past March, ELI wrapped up its 17th Annual Western Boot Camp on Environmental Law. With a record-breaking 86 participants, this year’s virtual event brought together legal experts and attorneys for three days to explore in-depth issues in U.S. environmental law and policy.

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