Publications about: 2017

Debate Over Ownership of Public Lands

2016 saw the rise of a lively legal debate over whether the federal government or the states have a superior claim to ownership of one-third of the nation’s lands currently managed by the federal government, including national forests, national parks, and national wildlife refuges. At one time, most of the territory of the United States,… Read more »

Confronting Coal Ash

2016 saw yet another toxic coal ash spill in the Southeast, as flooding from Hurricane Matthew caused a Duke Energy coal ash storage pond to overflow into North Carolina’s Neuse River. Both Duke and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality reported that only a minor amount spilled, but conservation groups provided videos and photos… Read more »

Has the Clean Power Plan Been Trumped?

Following the marathon (seven-hour) oral argument before the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in September the Environmental Protection Agency was feeling good about its chances of winning the legal battle over the Clean Power Plan rule. The judges were fully engaged and peppered all the attorneys with tough questions; however, the general consensus of… Read more »

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… Read more »

Amended Toxic Substances Control Act

Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976 in response to growing concerns over the health and environmental effects of manmade chemicals. A burgeoning chemical industry and lack of regulation meant that chemicals were flooding the market with little or no understanding of the risks. Through the TSCA, Congress sought to close the regulatory… Read more »

Exxon Knew

For decades, Exxon denied the link between fossil fuel combustion and climate change. Even though their own scientists discovered the link, the company quietly funded groups that deceived the public about the adverse impact of carbon dioxide on the climate. In addition to these failed efforts to deceive the public, did Exxon also deceive investors… Read more »

Lead, Water and Injustice in Flint and Beyond

In April 2014, motivated by a desire to reduce the cost of providing drinking water to its citizens, city officials in Flint, Mich., switched the source of the city’s water supply. Instead of drawing its water from the Detroit public water supply, with its source in Lake Huron, the city used water from the Flint… Read more »

Dakota Access Pipeline: The Calm Between the Storms

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) controversy has captivated the nation’s attention during the final months of 2016, shocking many in the environmental community, and highlighting issues of environmental justice that still plague Indian Country. Even seasoned legal scholars and commentators have struggled to predict what legal maneuvering is yet to come, as it sometimes seems… Read more »

Après Paris: Implementing the Paris Agreement in Uncertain Times

When the Paris Agreement was gaveled into being on Dec. 12, 2015, everyone in the room anticipated it coming into force in 2020, as the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period ends. While the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was ratified in only two years, its Kyoto Protocol had taken a full eight… Read more »

Public Litigation for Public Harms: China’s Revised Environmental Protection Law

China’s severe air, water, and soil pollution problems are major concerns for Chinese citizens and the government. These problems affect not only 1.4 billion Chinese but have international ramifications; China’s air pollution reaches across the Pacific, and the country is the headwaters for some of South Asia’s most vital water resources. Limited enforcement resources, local… Read more »