ELI In the News
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan will visit Houston on Friday as part of a weeklong tour of neighborhoods across the South where pollution has impacted people’s health — predominantly for Black and Latino residents. In Jackson, Mississippi, on Monday, Regan said he would discuss what people deserve from the federal environmental agency and the disproportionate impact pollution has had in historically marginalized communities. . . .
Paul Hanle ’69 has a gift for explaining science to non-scientists. He’s been doing it for decades — to families and teachers through science museums, and later to adults through agencies on up to the White House and the United Nations. Now he’s explaining the science of climate change to a group of people with real power to act on it: judges. About three years ago, Hanle helped found the Climate Judiciary Project at the Environmental Law Institute. It fills a need that’s growing primarily in the U.S. but also internationally, as more lawsuits are filed over climate change and appear before judges who don’t often have a science background. . . .
“Think globally, act locally” is a motto used for years to encourage local action on environmental problems. Seventeen-year-old Sonja Michaluk has been thinking globally and acting locally since she was a six-year-old monitoring streams for water quality in her hometown of Hopewell Township. And the Carnegie Mellon University student went on to act globally as well – and for that she was just named a winner of the 2021 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. The Barron Prize annually honors 25 outstanding young leaders who have made a significant positive impact on people, their communities, and the environment. . . .
The new head of the EPA’s in-house financial advisory board wants to prove low-income communities of color aren’t risky places for private investors to park their money. That goal is crucial because President Joe Biden has made environmental justice one of his central concerns. But it’s historically been hard to convince bottom line-oriented investors that projects such as laying down permeable pavement or shoring up disaster resiliency are worth financing, especially in rural areas without much economic activity. . . .
When the people of Rio Blanco first saw workers bringing heavy construction machinery into their village along the sacred Gualcarque River in Honduras 15 years ago, they went to Berta Isabel Cáceres for help. Cáceres, an activist representing the Lenca tribe who co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), would go on for a decade leading a campaign to stop the Agua Zarca Dam, a joint venture between a Chinese dam developer, the largest in the world, and a Honduran company, Desarrollos Energeticos SA (Desa). . . .
Towns and cities throughout the U.S., and globally, are on the front lines when it comes to addressing food waste and climate change. Recognizing the link between these two challenges, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) released a new report in August to help address them simultaneously — in their climate action plans (CAPs). “As the entities primarily responsible for managing waste and safeguarding public health, including ensuring that low-income communities and communities of color do not bear disproportionate burdens, cities are well situated to leverage their on-the-ground expertise and local policymaking authorities to simultaneously address climate change, food security, waste reduction, and environmental justice,” explains Linda Breggin, Senior Attorney and Director of ELI’s Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs. . . .
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been collecting a lot of information about flood risks across America, including the increased risk of flooding linked to climate change. But the agency has not effectively used that new knowledge to persuade more Americans to buy flood insurance, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. . . .
EPA’s waste office might soon be run by a law professor whose background could prove key in addressing the Biden administration’s environmental justice goals along with hot-button concerns like so-called forever chemicals. Carlton Waterhouse, whose nomination to oversee the Office of Land and Emergency Management is being taken up by a Senate committee this week, would bring a vital perspective to the job, advocates say . . . .
Facing lawsuits and criticism from scientists, environmental groups, and the chemical industry, the US Environmental Protection Agency is overhauling its approach for evaluating risks associated with high-priority chemicals that are already on the market. According to Michal Freedhoff, head of the EPA’s chemicals office, the changes will impact the first 10 assessments completed by the Trump administration under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). They will also affect the next 24 assessments, which the EPA has already begun, and those that the agency conducts in the future. . . .
The U.S. Supreme Court’s latest term, wrapping up this month, went surprisingly well for environmental lawyers who feared cases on the docket could prove disastrous to their cause. Many advocates prepared for a barrage of bad news from the conservative-leaning bench as the court weighed major Clean Water Act, Superfund, and pipeline questions, plus non-environment cases that could cause collateral damage. Instead, they got a slate of decisions they could live with—even some worth celebrating. “We got six votes,” Earthjustice lawyer David Henkin said of the 6-3 ruling in the water case, County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund. “It really blew my mind.” . . .