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Vibrant Environment

Transboundary Haze in Southeast Asia: The 2015 Fires Were Only the Beginning

Anna Beeman
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

In the last two weeks, Indonesian islands Sumatra and Borneo began experiencing severe forest fires, evoking fears within the region that the fires could have similar effects to the fires of 2015, which was one of the worst years for transboundary haze in Southeast Asia. Following the 2015 fires, Indonesia took steps to limit the burning and draining of peatland to reduce the outbreak of fires in addition to improving environmental sustainability and air quality in the region. However, due to a combination of governance challenges and climate change-intensifying dry seasons, the country has struggled to keep up with implementing fire mitigating activities in all fire-prone areas.

Reforming Selective Enforcement of Trade Laws in the Energy and Fisheries Sectors

Anna Beeman
Linda Breggin
Monday, August 5, 2019

The “fairness” of free trade agreements is front and center in today’s often rancorous political dialogue—but rarely is the environment a top-tier consideration in the debate. In a timely article, Vanderbilt University Law School Prof. Timothy Meyer offers a valuable environmental perspective on trade agreements that deserves attention. Professor Meyer offers empirical evidence that selective enforcement of environmental laws is “considerably more pervasive than commonly thought.” The result, he contends, is that trade agreements can undermine environmental interests in the energy and fisheries sectors, the most traded commodity and the most traded food respectively.

The Summer That Launched an Era

Stephen R. Dujack
Monday, July 22, 2019

In a period of less than a month, everything good seemed possible for America. First came the Moon landing, on July 20, 1969. Billions watched our astronauts live from the lunar surface and took pride in humanity’s achievement. In the United States, the concept of collective will to conquer a huge national challenge got a big boost. Project Apollo joined the Manhattan Project as paradigms of government-led Yankee ingenuity licking a technological problem — and on a tight timetable to boot, expenses be damned because of the extreme nature of the threat.

Overcoming Impediments to Offshore CO2 Storage: Legal Issues in the United States and Canada

ELR Staff
Monday, July 1, 2019

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a hot-button topic as a strategy to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CCS entails capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and industrial plants at the source, then injecting the captured carbon dioxide into underground geologic formations for storage. Much research has focused on sequestering carbon dioxide onshore, in depleted oil and gas reservoirs or deep saline aquifers. Offshore CCS also may be feasible, but presents several governance and legal challenges.

Fast Fashion: Cutting Corners to Fuel Excessive Consumption

Kashaf Momin
Kaveri Marathe
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

When’s the last time you found yourself idly shopping out of boredom or buying a shirt just because it was on sale? If it was in the last week, then you’re not alone. The average American shopper buys 60% more clothing today than they did just 15 years ago, but keeps it for only half as long. At the end of the year, this results in approximately 80 pounds of unwanted clothing per person!

Maps, Mistakes, and Murder: Is Carpenter the Most Critical Environmental Case This Year?

Kieran Minor
Friday, June 21, 2019

Several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court this term touched environmental law, ranging from jurisdictional disputes over a state’s right to ban uranium mining to whether state or federal laws apply when hunting moose from a hovercraft along an Alaskan river. An unusual amount of cases navigate the intersection of environmental regulations and tribal sovereignty, the Court so far siding with tribes on the issues of state fuel tax exemptions and hunting rights. One pending case, Carpenter v. Murphy, is not explicitly environmental, but the answer to its core question has potentially seismic environmental implications: is the eastern half of Oklahoma still, technically, an Indian reservation? While the case primarily involves criminal jurisdiction, the degree to which the Court accepts or rejects this question may alter taxation, regulation, and even ownership of one of the most energy resource-rich regions in the country.

Secretary Bernhardt Says He Doesn’t Have a Duty to Fight Climate Change. He’s Wrong.

John D. Leshy
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

With the help of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has had a long and proud history of tackling pressing challenges through responsible and inclusive management of America’s public lands. One might expect it would continue that tradition as climate change has become a major challenge confronting the nation.

Leadership of Women in the Environmental Movement

Helena Kilburn
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Women have been leaders in every major movement, though their contributions all too often go unrecognized. The environmental movement is no exception. Women striving toward the betterment of this field have faced many challenges, but through skill and determination, they persevered. The environmental movement is over two centuries long with generations of women shaping policies and laws within the field. This blog features just a handful of the numerous women who paved the way for future environmentally conscious generations.

Proposed Revisions to Improve and Modernize CEQ’s NEPA Regulations

ELR Staff
Monday, June 10, 2019

In 2018, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced its intentions to revisit and revise its 40-year-old NEPA regulations, following Pres. Donald Trump’s call in Executive Order No. 13807 to modernize the environmental review and authorization process. CEQ issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking last June and is now expected to send its proposal to the White House shortly.

Strategizing Against the Flame: What’s Next for California’s Wildfires?

Helena Kilburn
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The 2018 wildfire season in California has been the state’s deadliest on record, and the 10 most deadly fires in California’s history occurred in the last four years. In a deviation from historic records, documentation of these recent fires show that their occurrence has become nearly year-round rather than seasonal. These fires pose extreme threats to 25 million acres of California’s wildlands, as well as to the 11 million people who live within the threatened area. In addition to intensifying climate change, faulty equipment and electric transmission from utility companies have contributed to the increase in wildfires in these high-risk regions. However, taking full monetary responsibility for these fires can lead to near or certain bankruptcy for the utility companies.

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