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Vibrant Environment

Smart Tech, Dumb Design: Planned Obsolescence and Social Responsibility

Four Generations of iPhone (Photo: Yutaka Tsutano)
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

September 22 marked the beginning of fall, and for some, that means it’s officially apple-picking season. Coincidentally, this isn’t the only type of apple officially in season. September 22 also marked the release date of Apple’s iPhone 8. And it’s not too long until you have your pick of a new Apple product with the release of the iPhone X on November 3.

Environmental Protection in the Trump Era

Environmental Protection in the Trump Era
John Pendergrass
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Here at ELI, we’ve seen a growing demand for unbiased answers and analysis on how deregulatory initiatives by the Administration and Congress will impact environmental protection, governance, and the rule of law. To that end, we recently collaborated with the American Bar Association’s Civil Rights and Social Justice Section to publish an ebook to aid understanding of the legal mechanisms that the White House, federal agencies, and Congress are using to change the regulatory approach to environmental, natural resources, and health and safety protections. The book attempts to answer these questions: What are the pathways and potential impacts of these ongoing regulatory changes? What are the opportunities for the public and other stakeholders to engage relative to these initiatives?

Look! A New Pollutant

A new class of nanopollutants was recently discovered in coal ash,
Dave Rejeski
Monday, October 2, 2017

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, coal-fired systems have been emitting a pollutant we did not even know existed . . . until now. In 2014, a team of scientists studying arsenic in the Dan River coal ash spill site in North Carolina discovered a new nano-scale version of titanium oxides that had never been seen before.* What they discovered were titanium suboxides, or so-called Magnéli phases, which were first synthesized in the 1930s. These substances are extremely rare in nature, seen only in rocks having an extraterrestrial origin (meteorites, lunar rocks, and interplanetary dust particles), and at one known point on the earth’s surface—rock formations on the central coast of western Greenland.

More Bog for the Buck: Leveraging NEPA Efficiencies to Increase Restoration

Coastal wetlands
Amy Reed
Xiao Recio-Blanco
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

On August 30, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (the “Council”) announced that it is seeking public comment on a proposal to “approve implementation funding for the Robinson Preserve Wetlands Restoration project” in Florida. If the proposal is approved, the Council will allocate $1,790,546 in RESTORE Act (Pot 2) funds to implement the project, including a “reallocat[ion of] $470,910 from planning [funds] to implementation.” According to the Council, the project will restore approximately 118 acres of habitat, including coastal upland, wetland, and open water habitat types, in the Tampa Bay Watershed.

Mitigating Ocean Noise Impacts on Marine Mammals in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

Underwater noise can cause injury or death to whales (Christopher Michel).
Monday, September 25, 2017

Humans are rapidly increasing their industrial use of the ocean and its resources, resulting in great increases in underwater noise. Commercial shipping, naval sonar, seismic exploration, pile driving, acoustic deterrents for fishing, and seabed mining all produce ocean noise.

Brother(s), Can You Spare a Dime? Crowdfunding Environmental Action

Crowdfunding is the strategy of raising funds from a large number of people (Pho
Lorentz Hansen
Dave Rejeski
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

In 2008, as many financial instruments dissolved stranding their investors in seas of debt and spasms of panic, a new instrument appeared at the intersection of the crowd and the web: crowdfunding.

Emerging Environmental Issues in Native Communities

ELI will examine emerging legal issues in Native American Communities.
Cynthia R. Harris
Monday, September 18, 2017

Tribes and Native villages are demonstrating reinvigorated environmental activism as they face increased pressures on natural resource use. Consequently, some of the most significant new developments in environmental law are occurring in Indian country. This month, ELI features a two-part webinar series on “Emerging Environmental Issues in Native Communities.”

Oh, SNAP! D.C. Circuit Limits EPA’s Authority to Regulate HFCs

HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On August 8, 2017, the D.C. Circuit held in Mexichem Fluor, Inc. v. EPA, No. 15-1328 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 8, 2017), that EPA overstepped its authority under the CAA when it banned the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in products. HFCs were adopted as alternatives to ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) in the 1990s under the Montreal Protocol. Their adoption was encouraged through application of EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program, which was created to help implement U.S.

The Death of Public Citizen in Pipeline NEPA Analysis

A natural gas pipeline under construction (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).
Howard Nelson
Kenneth M. Minesinger
Gus Howard
Monday, September 11, 2017

Last month, the D.C. Circuit held in a 2-1 opinion that FERC was required to consider the downstream emissions created by power plants to be served by a proposed pipeline in Florida. The case not only raises questions about the scope of FERC’s NEPA review for new natural gas pipeline projects, but also about the application of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Department of Transportation v. Public Citizen, 541 U.S. 752 (2004).

FIFRA at 40: The Case for Stronger Criminal Penalties

Farm workers are at high risk of harmful pesticide exposure (Photo: Aqua Mech.)
ELR Staff
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

In 2010, two sisters—ages 1 and 4—died after licensed exterminators misapplied pesticides too close to their home. In 2011, roughly 60 dead mammals and migratory birds were found on and near a private hunting preserve after pesticides were unlawfully applied in hopes of killing coyotes. And in 2015, an entire family was hospitalized, and now suffers from neurological damage, following the improper pesticide fumigation of their house. Yet, the perpetrators in each of these cases were only charged with misdemeanors.