Vermont Law Top 10 Environmental Watch List 2015

Message from the Director

Today, Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center (ELC) and the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (VJEL) unveil the fifth annual Top 10 Environmental Watch List.

Our ELC faculty and VJEL staff editors researched dozens of judicial, regulatory, and legislative actions before selecting the 10 most important issues at the end of 2014.

The list highlights top controversies decided in 2014 and provides a dashboard of open legal and policy disputes as we enter 2015. The topics range from climate disruption and carbon emissions to regulating pollution discharges into wetlands and managing wolves, oil reserves, and other natural resources.

With the Supreme Court declining to review California’s first-in-the-nation, low-carbon fuel standard, California’s efforts to mitigate climate disruption will move forward. As will the EPA, after the Supreme Court upheld the agency’s broad authority to resolve the difficult problem of allocating responsibility for downwind air pollution. Will the D.C. Circuit uphold the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to slash carbon pollution from existing power plants by an estimated 30 percent by 2030? Will the Department of Interior heed the lessons of the 2014 court ruling that BP acted with “gross negligence” in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster as it takes up oil exploration off the coast of Alaska? After entering into the single-largest settlement between the U.S. and an American Indian tribe, will the Department of Interior change its management of natural resources on Navajo trust lands?

You’ll find these stories and more in this year’s Watch List. We hope it informs about the issues and compels you to action.