Making a Difference: ELI in Action

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.

Recognizing Excellence

On October 25, ELI presented its 2022 Environmental Achievement Award to Ben Wilson in recognition of his visionary leadership and outstanding environmental stewardship over a most distinguished career. 

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 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.

New Reads: Environmental Justice

Race and socioeconomic status should not dictate the environmental health risks we face. Yet, too often this is not the case. The environmental justice movement seeks to avoid, minimize, and mitigate disproportionately high and adverse impacts on minority and/or low-income communities and to ensure that disadvantaged communities are engaged meaningfully in environmental decisionmaking processes. Environmental Justice: Legal Theory and Practice by Barry Hill provides a thought-provoking exposition and comprehensive review of the complex mixture of environmental laws and civil rights legal theories that are central to this still-evolving area of law. The book, now in its 5th edition, includes all of the significant cases and developments that have occurred since the prior edition. Readers will come away with a deep understanding of the dynamics of environmental justice and gain insight as to how best to address the issue through enlightened leadership in our communities, government agencies, state bar associations, law offices and legal services providers, law school clinics and academic institutions, and corporations.

New Reads: Agriculture and Climate Change

Agriculture’s contribution to climate change is substantial—much more so  than official figures suggest. We will not be able to achieve our overall mitigation goals unless agricultural emissions sharply decline. Fortunately, farms and ranches can be a major part of the climate solution, while protecting biodiversity, strengthening rural communities, and improving the lives of the workers who cultivate our crops and rear our animals. The importance of agricultural climate solutions should not be underestimated; they are critical elements both in ensuring our food security and limiting climate change. This book provides essential solutions to address the greatest crises of our time. Farming for Our Future: The Science, Law, and Policy of a Climate-Neutral Future by Peter H. Lehner & Nathan A. Rosenberg examines the policies and legal reforms necessary to accelerate the adoption of practices that can make agriculture in the United States climate-neutral or better. These proven practices will also make our food system more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

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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!


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:

To listen, visit or find us on your favorite podcast app.


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:

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!