EcoPerspectives Blog

Fracking in Michigan: How Drilling for Natural Gas Could Impact the Great Lakes

Summary: A brief look at the fracking industry in Northern Michigan, the laws and regulations, and how fracking is impacting the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed and the Great Lakes. Fracking has been occurring in Northern Michigan for decades, but, compared to the Marcellus Shale, has been essentially overlooked by the national limelight. The Great Lakes are… Read more »

A Sea Full of Trash: Tackling the Plastic Problem

________________________________________ By Morgana Matus This post is cross-posted on FIX. Beyond the landfills and trash heaps moldering in almost every town and city across the globe, manmade garbage has found its way into the natural landscape on a mind-boggling scale. It seems as though there are virtually no places left on Earth free of our… Read more »

Tiny Beads, Big Problem: Vermont Seeks to Ban Microbeads

Summary: There may be tiny bits of plastic in your toothpaste. These small plastic pieces are part of many personal care products and are designed to wash down the drain. However, due to their non-biodegradable nature and miniscule size, the plastic pellets sail through wastewater treatment plants, enter water bodies, and cause persistent environmental damage…. Read more »

Blurred Lines: The Importance of Delineation Between Legislative and Non-legislative Rules Under the APA

Summary: Not all agency rules have the force of law. In March of 2014, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers issued an “interpretive rule” regarding section 404 of the Clean Water Act, circumventing a notice and comment period. Under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), “interpretive rules” are merely advisory and do not carry… Read more »

Zero Trash: Using the Clean Water Act to Control Marine Debris in California

Summary:  Trash that is lost, littered, blown, or washed into the ocean is an issue of growing environmental concern.  Los Angeles is a leader in using the federal Clean Water Act tool of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) to mitigate a major contributing source of marine trash: urban stormwater.  California is now in the process… Read more »

All Dried Up: Tensions Rise over Water Shortage in California

Summary: California is currently in the midst of a severe drought that poses substantial risks to agriculture, endangered species, and human society. Water scarcity has caused tensions to ignite among various groups within California. With the drought ongoing, Californians must consider new ways to preserve their limited water resources. ________________________________________ By Laurie Ristino and Joseph… Read more »

China’s Emissions Trading Plan

Summary: In 2016, the Chinese government plans to launch a national market for carbon permit trading. In preparation for this national system, the government rolled out seven test markets, which saw varying degrees of compliance. Overall, there have been no reductions in carbon emissions. But, the system is not doomed. There are several reasons for… Read more »

The Toledo Water Ban: More Money, More Chemicals, More Problems

Summary: The city of Toledo, Ohio issued a water ban on August 2–3, 2014 after a local treatment plant found unsafe levels of microcystin, a type of harmful algal bloom known to cause health defects and even death when ingested. Due to the amount of unregulated agriculture in Ohio, phosphorus and other nutrients that runoff into… Read more »

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Koontz?

Summary: The Supreme Court’s recent exactions decision in Koontz v. St. Johns Water Management District has prompted concerns that it will stifle the compensatory mitigation practices of environmental and natural resources permitting agencies. The form of Koontzphobia is unfounded for three reasons: (1) the statutes and regulations under which the agencies work already require the… Read more »

Alaska’s Atmospheric Public Trust: A Right Without a Remedy?

Summary: A glimmer of (false) hope for public trust plaintiffs.  The Alaska Supreme Court suggested Alaskans might have a right to atmosphere, but declined to provide a remedy.  Adam Murray, of the U.W. Arctic Law & Policy Institute, explains why. ________________________________________ By Adam Patrick Murray Atmospheric public trust plaintiffs are running out of options. The… Read more »