Publications about: 2015

Top 10 2015

The field of environmental law is as vast as it is varied and it can be difficult at times to keep track of what’s actually happening. The Top 10 2015 list reflects what the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law and environmental faculty at Vermont Law School feel to be the most important environmental legal issues… Read more »

Shedding Light: Vermont’s Labeling Law for Genetically Engineered Foods

GMO Right to Know

In May 2014, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law the first-in-the-nation requirement that food produced with genetic engineering (GE) be labeled as such. The bill, which passed by a vote of 28-2 in the Senate and 114-30 in the House, garnered the support of more than 30,000 Vermonters and a coalition of key advocacy… Read more »

California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard

California’s first-in-the-nation, low-carbon fuel standard has withstood federal judicial review, maintaining the legality of this important state policy tool in the fight against climate change. The Supreme Court on June 30, 2014, declined to review California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).  The LCFS had previously been found unconstitutional by the U.S. District Court in Fresno… Read more »

EPA v. EME Homer City Generation

In 2014, a six-member majority of the Supreme Court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s broad authority to resolve the difficult problem of allocating responsibility for downwind air pollution. At issue in the case of EPA v. EME Homer City Generation was the EPA’s “Transport Rule,” which interpreted the Clean Air Act’s Good Neighbor Provision. This provision… Read more »

Endangered Species Act Regulations Ruled Unconstitutional


On Nov. 5, 2014, a federal district court judge in Utah struck down regulations adopted under the federal Endangered Species Act protecting the Utah prairie dog on private land as an unconstitutional exercise of federal authority under the Commerce Clause (People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners [PETPO] v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)…. Read more »

Obama Administration Settles with Navajo Nation for $554M


In September 2014, at Window Rock, Ariz., the Obama administration reached a settlement with the Navajo Nation after years of litigation over mismanagement of lease revenues and royalties from mining, ranching, and timber harvesting on Navajo trust lands. The United States will award the Navajo $554 million to settle claims arising from the federal government’s… Read more »

EPA Clean Power Plan: Homerun, Base Hit, or Strikeout?


In June, under orders from President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed an ambitious plan to slash carbon pollution from existing power plants by an estimated 30 percent by 2030. These plants, most of which are coal-fired, account for 40 percent of the nation’s CO2 emissions. The plan fulfills a pledge the president made in… Read more »

Waters of the United States Rule


On March 25, 2014, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed rule to clarify and refine the definition of “waters of the United States” in the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule represents the agencies’ first comprehensive attempt in nearly 30 years to revisit this issue, which has particular significance… Read more »

Message from the Director

Melissa Scanlan

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… Read more »

BP Oil Spill ‘Gross Negligence’ Finding by Federal Court

Image courtesy Wikipedia

In September 2014, a federal district court in Louisiana ruled that oil company BP acted with “gross negligence” in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Gross negligence—willful misconduct or reckless behavior, like speeding through a crowded pedestrian area or locking emergency exits in a public building—is an extreme and significant finding. In short, the trial court… Read more »