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Vibrant Environment

War and Peace: Colombia’s Environmental Degradation Paradox

Policía Antinarcóticos  stand on guard after burning a coca laboratory near Tuma
Nora Moraga-Lewy
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Colombia’s government and FARC rebels signed a historic peace accord in late 2016, ending a civil war that caused over 220,000 deaths and the internal displacement of over 7 million people. In addition to devastating lives and livelihoods, the civil war was destructive to the environment. Following historic negotiations and the congressional ratification of a revised agreement, Colombia still faces environmental risks in a time of relative peace. It is crucial that ongoing talks and reforms in the wake of over five decades of conflict take these factors into account in order to ensure sustained peace and development for the future.

Measuring Up: Smart Meter Lessons From the United Kingdom

Smart meters can bring many benefits for both energy utilities and consumers (
Miriam Aczel
Monday, February 12, 2018

Smart meters—small, electronic devices that track and record energy consumption and communicate information back to the electrical utility—can reduce energy use by empowering consumers with the ability to monitor energy use and make better choices. Smart meters are an upgrade to outdated analog meters because they automatically record information in real time instead of requiring someone to manually record and transmit the collected data.

Of Frogs and Men

Are frogs better than humans at responding to slow threats?
ELR Staff
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore famously used the example of a slowly boiled frog as a metaphor for climate change. That turns out not to be accurate, as biologists say the frog is smart enough to jump out of the pot long before it becomes frog soup. But the problem Gore described is real enough.

State Policies Are Still Needed to Reduce Radon Risk

Radon can enter homes in numerous ways (Photo: US EPA)
Tobie Bernstein
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January is National Radon Action Month, a good time for policymakers to consider what action they can take to address one of the most important—and preventable—indoor health risks facing their constituents. Radon is responsible for around 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year. That makes it the second leading cause of lung cancer overall and the leading cause among non-smokers, according to EPA.

D.C.’s Flushable Wipes Law Gets Clogged in District Court

Flushable wipes (Your Best Digs / Flickr)
Robert Kelsey
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Flushable wipes have proven to not be so flushable and are wreaking havoc on some of the world’s major cities. Municipalities like New York City, spend millions of dollars to remedy clogging issues the wipes cause. New York City officials said in 2015 that "wipe-related equipment problems," have cost the city more than $18 million since 2010.

James W. Rubin, Esq.—A Life Well Lived

In Remembrance of Jim Rubin
Ignacia S. Moreno
Ethan G. Shenkman
Russell F. Smith III
Tseming Yang
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

At James W. Rubin’s memorial service on November 4, 2017, a vast network of friends and colleagues remembered him for his brilliant mind, relentless spirit, infectious sense of humor, and unwavering dedication to his family. The four of us consider ourselves fortunate to have worked closely with Jim at the U.S. Department of Justice in the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) and to be his friends.

2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review
Scott Fulton
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

As we get ready to ring in the New Year, the editors of Vibrant Environment thought it might be nice to take a look back at some of the work ELI did in 2017.

Ninth Circuit Reinforces Executive Power to Withdraw Public Lands From Mining Extraction

The Colorado River, Grand Canyon
Robert Kelsey
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Following President Trump’s announcement that he was reducing the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, there have been questions as to the extent of the executive branch’s power to manage federal lands. The announcement has put the Antiquities Act, which grants the president the authority to protect federal lands, under a microscope. Recently, two cases concerning the U.S.

Human Rights Day 2017: A Reflection on Human Rights and Environmental Rule of Law

Eleanor Roosevelt and the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights
Nora Moraga-Lewy
Monday, December 11, 2017

December 10, 2018, will mark the 70th anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Declaration outlines inalienable rights entitled to every human being, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, language, political or other affiliation, social or national origin, birth, or other status.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration: A Step Toward Deep Decarbonization?

Coal power plant emissions (Pixabay).
ELR Staff
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Last month, Trump Administration officials attended the latest round of U.N. climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany, but they weren’t there to discuss reducing emissions. Rather, they touted the promises of nuclear energy, natural gas, “clean coal,” and carbon capture. This is not surprising, given the President’s views on climate policy and his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. But even had Trump decided otherwise, the current Agreement does not do enough to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change.

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