ELI has a proud record of making law work for people, places, and the planet for more than 50 years. Here we highlight some of our more recent accomplishments with regard to environmental law, policy, and protection.
New Leadership at ELI in 2022
ELI is pleased to announce that, following a nationwide search, Jordan Diamond will become the next president of ELI, beginning January 1, 2022. The announcement was made at ELI’s 2021 Environmental Achievement Award Ceremony. Jordan Diamond is currently the Executive Director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment, which designs and develops pragmatic policy solutions to environmental and energy challenges in California and across the nation. Recognized for her work on marine policy, Jordan also co-directs the Law of the Sea Institute at UC Berkeley and was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to serve on the California Ocean Protection Council. She has been recognized in the field of environmental law through the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Distinguished Environmental Advocates: The Next Generation award and ELI’s own Environmental Futures Award. Throughout her career, Jordan has focused on ensuring environmental laws and policies are based on the best information available, developed through inclusive and transparent processes, and implemented through adaptive and accountable systems. After he steps down in 2022, Scott Fulton will continue to support ELI’s work from Europe as ELI’s President Emeritus and International Envoy.
On October 19, ELI presented its 2021 Environmental Achievement Award to Carol M. Browner in recognition of her visionary leadership and outstanding environmental stewardship over a most distinguished career. The award ceremony, which was held both virtually and in person, featured a special video appearance by President Bill Clinton. If you missed it, you can watch the ceremony here. Carol Browner is perhaps best known for her work as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a position she held during the Clinton Administration from 1993 through 2001. But she also served as Assistant to President Obama and the first Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, where she oversaw the coordination of environmental, energy, climate, transport, and related policy across the U.S. federal government. During her tenure, the White House secured the largest investment ever in clean energy and established the national car policy that included both new automobile fuel-efficiency standards and first-ever greenhouse gas reductions.
Prioritizing Environmental Justice
The Environmental Law Institute is pleased to welcome Arielle V. King as its new environmental justice staff attorney. In this role, Arielle will help design and implement ELI’s strategic and organizational approach to environmental justice, mainstream environmental justice across ELI’s programmatic work, and strengthen our partnerships with other organizations focused on environmental justice. The new position is one of many actions identified in the ELI Board of Director’s Statement on Racism and Environmental Justice. In early 2021, ELI established an Environmental Justice Law Clerk program with Howard University Law School, and is working to create a Pro Bono Clearinghouse to match communities experiencing environmental injustices with law firms willing to volunteer legal services on behalf of these communities. Longer-term initiatives include developing products and programs that connect environmental justice with corporate sustainability and environment, social, and governance policies and priorities; identifying opportunities to advance environmental justice internationally; and pursuing and cementing relationships with ally organizations, both law and non-law focused, to better inform and guide ELI’s environmental justice activities. Arielle will play a key role in these various initiatives.
Helping Cities Address Climate Change & Food Waste Simultaneously
Throughout the United States, our towns and cities are on the front lines when it comes to addressing food waste and climate change. Recognizing the link between these two challenges, ELI released a new report that will help towns and cities address these challenges simultaneously—in their climate action plans. In 2019, 35% of food in the United States was wasted, contributing to 4% of all U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Meanwhile, cities are already experiencing the effects of climate change and preparing for increased natural disasters, depleted resources, and sea-level rise, among other stresses. Rising to the challenge, cities across the country have pledged to reduce GHG emissions and develop climate action plans that outline the measures they will use to achieve mitigation goals. These plans offer an ideal opportunity for cities to adopt food waste-related actions. The report, A Toolkit for Incorporating Food Waste in Municipal Climate Action Plans, includes model provisions that municipalities can use to incorporate food waste measures into their municipal climate action plans. The toolkit provides an easily accessible menu of options that include measures to prevent food waste, rescue surplus food, and recycle food scraps. The toolkit stems from ELI’s Food Waste Initiative, which conducts research and works with stakeholders to prevent food waste, increase surplus food donation, and recycle the remaining food scraps. ELI’s Linda Breggin served as project lead.
Improving Implementation for In-Lieu Fee Programs
In-lieu fee (ILF) programs are an important mechanism to provide compensatory mitigation and thus contribute to the “no net loss” goal. ELI, in partnership with the Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law, created a series of comprehensive guides on some of the most challenging components of ILF program implementation. These guides identify specific challenges, providing detailed recommendations on ways to meet these challenges, and including examples or case studies of programs to illustrate effective approaches. The guides cover full cost accounting, project approval and the three-year growing season, long-term management, and programmatic audits. The guides are available for download at https://www.eli.org/wetlands-program/ILFresources. The project was led by ELI’s Senior Policy & Science Analyst Rebecca Kihslinger.
Helping Households Reduce Harmful Cooking Pollutants
Over a year into the pandemic, many households have stepped up their cooking game—be it for practical purposes or simply for fun. And while home cooking is often the healthier choice, might it lead to a hidden danger? A new report from ELI, Reducing Exposure to Cooking Pollutants: Policies and Practices to Improve Air Quality in Homes, provides states, local governments, and tribes with information they can use to help people in their communities protect themselves from being exposed to particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and other harmful pollutants inside their homes. The report recommends jurisdictions update their residential building codes to mandate kitchen ventilation in all new residential construction. In addition, jurisdictions should establish minimum ventilation performance standards to ensure that the exhaust system can remove a sufficient share of the pollutants emitted during cooking immediately after they are emitted. The report also recommends that green building policies include kitchen ventilation best practices to protect residents from unhealthy levels of pollutants. Contact Tobie Bernstein, Director of ELI’s Indoor Environments & Green Buildings Program, to learn more.
A Federal Environmental Rights Amendment?
More than 50 years ago, Franklin Kury drafted and championed an Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, which was enacted on Earth Day 1970 and ratified by Pennsylvania’s voters a year later. In the half century since then, climate change has become the overriding threat to the environment of the planet. In The Constitutional Question to Save the Planet: The Peoples' Right to a Healthy Environment, Franklin Kury expands upon the story of Article I, Section 27, to demonstrate how its principles can be the basis for addressing climate change in the rest of the world. The story concludes with a call for the federal government’s leadership to seek a national environmental rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a treaty to expand its reach to the international community.
Using Land Use Law to Address the Climate Challenge
Land use climate bubbles are popping up throughout the nation at an alarming rate, creating an economic crisis that will be more damaging than that of the housing bubble of 2008. The costs to ecosystems and low- and moderate-income households are equally severe. These bubbles, where land and building values are declining, provide extensive, objective evidence that climate change is real and must be dealt with on the ground. And it sidelines the ideological battles over the political response and instead requires us to focus on the practical question: what can we do to respond? Written by leading land-use expert John Nolon, ELI Press released Choosing to Succeed: Land Use Law & Climate Control, which describes how the local land use legal system can leverage state and local assistance to reduce per capita carbon emissions as an important and now recognized component of global efforts to manage climate change. The tools and techniques presented in the book are available to the nation’s 40,000 local governments, if led by courageous leaders choosing to succeed in this epic battle.
RECENTLY FEATURED IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL FORUM
President Biden has called for the United States to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with interim targets of 50-52 percent reduction by 2030 and an entirely carbon-free power sector by 2035. Just two years prior, ELI Press published Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States, a compendium of over a thousand legal options for the United States to rapidly reduce emissions. This “legal playbook” outlines many of the actions needed to achieve the president’s ambitious climate action goals. While Legal Pathways serves as a useful starting point for discussions on achieving net-zero emissions, by no means is it exhaustive. We invite back one of the book’s editors, Michael Gerrard, along with three other expert commentators, to weigh in on Biden’s goals. We are asking these experts, What policy mix would be the best at achieving the administration’s many and diverse goals? What tools do we have at hand? What tools do we need to create — and how? Many policies have been proposed — carbon taxes, cap and trade, technology or performance standards, research and development, carbon capture and sequestration, public works programs, planting forests. There are no doubt other approaches as well. Which make sense in the quest to efficiently and equitably reach a zero-carbon future and achieve the president’s other climate change goals? Read The Debate from the September-October issue of The Environmental Forum today!
PODCASTS OF NOTE
ELI’s People Places Planet Podcast provides the public, environmental practitioners, and our members with cutting-edge, thought-provoking conversations about current issues central to environmental law and governance. Recent episodes include:
- Migration With Dignity (featuring Carl Bruch, Dr. Shanna McClain & Kristine Perry)
- Environmental Law & Policy Annual Review (featuring Heather Luedke & Linda Breggin)
- Toxic Beauty Products & Environmental Justice (featuring Caitlin McCarthy & Dr. Neha Pathak)
To listen, visit www.eli.org/podcasts or find us on your favorite podcast app.
RECENTLY FEATURED IN ELR
For more than 50 years, ELI’s flagship journal, ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, has provided insightful articles on the most pressing environmental topics of the day. Recent articles include:
- Revitalizing Greenhouse Gas Permitting Inside a Biden EPA, by Matt Haber and Seema Kakade
- Private Environmental Governance to Address Manufacturing Releases of Antibiotics, by Michael G. Mahoney
- Six Priority Recommendations for Improving Conservation Under the ESA, by Alejandro E. Camacho, Melissa L. Kelly, and Ya-Wei Li
Curious about ELR’s full suite of offerings? Learn more here.
This page is updated quarterly. Check back for updates, or peruse our website to see what else we've been up to!