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Vibrant Environment

The Year U.S. Financial Regulators Acknowledged Climate Change Risks

New York stock exchange building
Hana V. Vizcarra
Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Disclosure law in the United States is on the cusp of change. Significant shifts in the information investors expect to see in disclosures and how they use it are redefining what “material” is and changing disclosure obligations for companies. Federal financial regulators are also incorporating climate change risks into their work, adding pressure to improve climate-related disclosures.

Environmental Liability Could Help Remedy Biodiversity Loss

Pongo the Stolen Orangutan, credit Jaclyn Schwanke
Carol Adaire Jones
Monday, July 26, 2021

In a rural community in North Sumatra, Indonesia, an environmental NGO recently filed one of the first natural resource liability suits for illegal resource exploitation against a zoo holding critically endangered animals. Extending the “polluters-pay” principle, the case has the potential to set a global precedent for holding illegal wildlife traffickers accountable for repairing the harm they cause—not only to individual plants and animals, but also to species survival, ecosystem health, and human well-being.

A Rising Tide of Climate Accountability

Ocean wave
Selah Goodson Bell
Monday, July 19, 2021

On May 26, Engine No. 1, an activist hedge fund owning 0.02% of ExxonMobil’s stock, led a shareholder revolt against the oil giant, ousting three of Exxon’s board members despite opposition from senior management. The change was part of a recent tide of losses for the global oil industry. Chevron’s shareholders also displayed an intolerance for corporate negligence toward climate change when they passed a resolution mandating the company to account for and cut down on Scope 3 emissions, which are released in the process of oil combustion. These emissions make up a far larger share of the company’s carbon footprint than emissions from operations and extraction. Together, these shareholders are jointly calling on the oil industry to adapt its business model to align with a decarbonized economy.

International Legal Protections for Sharks and Rays in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean

Sharks swimming in ocean
Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Industrial fisheries imperil sharks and rays. The populations of most species of sharks and rays are on the decline, and many populations are down to just 10 to 30 percent of their levels just a few decades ago. Although international agreements are in place to manage fisheries, restrict the trade of endangered species, and conserve migratory shark and ray populations, they have not been sufficiently effective in stopping the decline of many of these species.

The U.K. Environment Bill: A Pending Opportunity for Significant Environmental Governance

Tower bridge in London
Caitlin F. McCarthy
Wednesday, July 7, 2021

On January 31, the United Kingdom’s long and tumultuous departure from the European Union concluded with Brexit Day. This monumental, and by some, staunchly condemned, process ushered in a breadth of legal impacts, especially in regards to national environmental law and policy. EU directives previously served as the foundation for a large contingency of environmental standards, environmental protection regimes, conservation schemes, and enforcement and compliance in the U.K. Additional implications of Brexit include those at the intersection of agriculture and the environment, business and trade implications, sustainability efforts, chemical regulation, renewable energy development, the Paris Accord and other climate goals, and a variety of multinational treaties and directives. In short, the impacts on environmental governance were, and are, enormous and far-reaching.

Tribal Energy Project Development

windmills
Stella Pritchard
Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Tribal Energy Project, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program, aims to advance renewable energy sufficiency on tribal lands through government assistance. This assistance is three-pronged, providing financial support, technical and legal assistance, and tribal education and training on renewable energies. The goal is to improve tribal economies by using land to create more sustainable energy pathways that bolster the tribal community and create jobs within tribal nations.

Disinformation: Public Enemy Number One

Question marks
Scott Fulton
Wednesday, June 23, 2021

One of the great things about working at ELI is the regular infusion of fresh perspectives. At any given time, about 20 percent of the staff consists of students and recent graduates, most of whom are with us temporarily. The applicant pool for these jobs is incredibly competitive, guaranteeing that some of the brightest young minds in the country will always be in residence at the Institute.

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.

Building Partnerships to Implement Restoration Projects

Wetlands landscape
Russell Furnari
Monday, June 7, 2021

Effectively addressing the ever-evolving challenges for coastal communities is a daunting task, one that requires the coordinated effort of government, nongovernmental organizations, and corporations. In a time of limited resources and increased requirements for cost-sharing to obtain government funding for local projects, the support of all stakeholders is required if we are to effectively address community and environmental needs.