Vermont Law Top 10 Environmental Watch List 2017

Message from the Director

Today, Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center (ELC) and the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (VJEL) unveil the seventh annual Top 10 Environmental Watch List, plus a bonus feature on the U.S. presidential election and incoming administration.

ELC faculty and VJEL staff editors researched dozens of judicial, regulatory, and legislative actions before selecting the 10 most important environmental legal and policy issues to watch as we enter 2017. The topics range from climate disruption, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and toxic chemical and greenhouse gas regulations to public interest litigation in China.

Open questions abound as we end the year: Will a group of youth prevail in litigation and compel the U.S. to design and implement a plan to slash carbon emissions? How quickly will countries implement the Paris Agreement and will the U.S. obstruct global progress toward climate goals? What did Exxon know about climate change and did they commit securities fraud? How will the EPA implement a new federal law on toxic chemicals? When will all Flint residents drink clean water and will the incoming administration invest in clean water infrastructure?

And last but not least, there is the matter of Senate confirmations of agency heads and the ninth Supreme Court Justice. To date, the incoming Trump administration has shown a predilection toward agency heads who have previously opposed the mission of the agency, have strong ties to the fossil fuel industry, and have denied the existence of climate change (see bonus feature). Will the Senate play along with this deliberately destructive plan and confirm these nominations?

You’ll find these stories and more in the 2017 Watch List. We hope it informs about the issues and compels you to action.