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Blogs & Resources

ACOEL members contribute regularly to the ACOEL Blog, writing on topics of current interest in their respective fields. Recently-published blogs are featured below, or you can search the ACOEL blog archive using the search feature.


Current Blogs

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Reflections from My Octopus Teacher
April 08, 2021

Since the pandemic started, like many people, I have watched way more TV than I had previously watched. Recently, my daughter suggested we watch a film entitled My Octopus Teacher on Netflix. (I will be honest, the title did not generate great enthusiasm in me, but I reluctantly agreed...

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Houston Highway Tests Biden’s Promise of Equitable Infrastructure
April 07, 2021

The Biden Administration has acknowledged the racist history of the U.S. interstate highway system and its ongoing negative impacts on many Black neighborhoods. Presidential Memorandum on Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies (Jan. 26, 2001). Last week, the Administration announced its...

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Interior Secretary Debra Halland: Restorer of Balance?
April 05, 2021

Debra Halland made history when the Senate voted 51-40 on March 15, 2021 to confirm her to be Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI). She is the first Native American ever to serve in a cabinet position. DOI has a budget of more than $12 billion and...

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Canada Given Green Light to Carbon Pricing: Why the Supreme Court of Canada’s Decision Should Matter to Those South of Our Northern Border
April 01, 2021

On March 25, 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (“GGPPA”), which establishes a national pricing benchmark for greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. Reference re Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, case numbers 38663, 38781, and 39116. Several provinces challenged the law, arguing that it...

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A Property Right To Exclude Others: Cedar Point Nursery’s Implications For Regulatory Enforcement
March 30, 2021

The Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid (No. 20-107), a case that has generated considerable amicus participation and press coverage. In that case, union organizers, relying on a California law, entered the property of a fruit nursery with bullhorns in hand in...

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The Massachusetts Climate Bill is Very Much “Not Dead”
March 23, 2021

In January, when Governor Baker vetoed the Legislature’s effort to go big on climate, my colleague Zach Gerson made clear that the bill was not even “mostly dead.” I am pleased to say that Zach’s diagnosis was correct. The climate bill is very much alive.

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A pencil and calculator on top of a printout of graphs, charts, and figures.
Thirteen Years Later, D.C. Circuit Says “Reasonable Possibility” Provision of NSR Rule Is Good Enough
March 17, 2021

On March 5, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied a challenge to a more than decade-old EPA rule related to the records that source owners must keep in order to support claims that certain of their activities are not subject to EPA’s New Source Review...

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March 16, 2021

The American College of Environmental Lawyers (“ACOEL”) announces its annual Stephen E. Herrmann Environmental Writing Award (“Herrmann Award”) for the 2020-21 academic year. Stephen E. Herrmann is a distinguished, nationally recognized environmental lawyer. For some forty years, Mr. Herrmann has been a leader in the area of environmental...

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Loving—and Living with—the Neutrality of Administrative Law
March 15, 2021

One salutary feature of administrative law—the core practice of many environmental litigators—is its predominant neutrality. There is nothing partisan about the principles that an agency must draw a “rational connection between the facts found and the choice made” when issuing regulations; must base important decisions on “genuine” not “contrived”...

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Photo of a factory with active smoke stacks
March 04, 2021

The Obama administration adopted the Clean Power Plan to reduce power sector greenhouse gas emissions in line with its commitments under the Paris Agreement climate accord. The Clean Power Plan invoked Clean Air Act § 111(d)’s “Best System of Emissions Reductions” to require states to implement low-carbon electricity dispatch...

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Lower Granite Dam, Snake River, Washington (earthen berm portion at left) Photo: US Army Corps of Engineers
March 02, 2021

I first saw Grand Coulee Dam as a 10-year old. My family and I were on our way to Spokane, Washington to attend Expo ’74, officially titled the “International Exposition on the Environment.” Expo ’74 was notable for being the first environmentally themed World’s Fair. It...

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Cost-Benefit Analysis Is Very Complicated — And Very Important
March 01, 2021

It’s only a slight rhetorical exaggeration to say that the limited bandwidth left to environmental issues other than climate change in recent years has been largely occupied by concerns about PFAS – Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “Forever chemicals.” A fascinating story in Bloomberg Environment & Energy...

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“Go back to where you came from” – a personal journey
August 07, 2019

Posted on August 7, 2019 by Brenda Mallory The first time that I remember being told “go back to where you came from,” I was 18. Although not the first time I was targeted because of my race, it was the first time I remember those words. I had...

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“DISCARDED” or “NOT DISCARDED”: That Is the Question (or “Asked and (finally) Answered!”)
July 31, 2019

Posted on July 31, 2019 by Karen Crawford On July 2, 2019, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition brought by an environmental group for review of EPA’s Transfer-Based Exclusion for secondary hazardous materials in California Communities Against Toxics v. EPA (D.C. Cir. July 2, 2019) (No. 18-1163). ...


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Leaving on the Midnight Train to Maui (Going Back to Find a Simpler Place in Time)
January 21, 2021

Posted on January 21, 2021 by Allan Gates With apologies to Gladys Knight & the Pips: It is not unusual for a lame duck administration to issue a flurry of midnight...

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Environmental Justice: Where Are the Roadblocks?
January 19, 2021

Posted on January 19, 2021 by Jerry L. Anderson We have known since the 1980s that people of color bear a disproportionate share of environmental harms.  In 1994, President Clinton issued Executive...

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“Keep Makin’ Bacon” Indiana’s Right to Farm Act Statute Upheld As Constitutional
January 11, 2021

Posted on January 11, 2021 by Chris Braun Indiana, like every other State, has adopted a Right to Farm Act to “reduce the loss to the state of its agricultural resources...

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Paying More than Your CERCLA Fair Share
January 8, 2021

Posted on January 8, 2021 by David G. Mandelbaum The rhetoric of enforcement under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601-75, plays well in public.  The government seeks...

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Showerheads: Untangling the Outgoing Administration’s Last Attack on Energy Conservation Standards
January 6, 2021

Posted on January 6, 2021 by Adam Kahn Regulatory trackers from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, and the New York Times identify over 100 rule changes from the outgoing Trump administration that could increase...

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EPA’s Ozone NAAQS Decision — Perhaps the Statute Itself Deserves Some of the Blame
December 28, 2020

Posted on December 28, 2020 by Seth Jaffe Last week, EPA formalized its decision to leave the ozone NAAQS unchanged, at 70 ppb.  I don’t think that this decision is in the same category...

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EPA Finalizes Decision to Retain the Existing PM2.5 NAAQS — Single Worst Environmental Decision of the Trump Administration?
December 10, 2020

Posted on December 10, 2020 by Seth Jaffe On Tuesday, EPA finalized its decision to retain the existing PM2.5 NAAQS of 12 ug/m3, rejecting substantial scientific evidence that PM2.5 causes significant harm at concentrations...

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Who Gets To Decide What is a Major Source That Requires a Permit? That’s a Fine Question
December 7, 2020

Posted on December 7, 2020 by Seth Jaffe The recent decision by the 8th Circuit that the Coyote Creek Mining Company did not require a major source permit under the Clean Air Act is both...

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New Jersey Governor Signs Historic Environmental Justice Legislation
December 4, 2020

Posted on December 4, 2020 by Debbie Mans New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed a historic environmental justice bill to protect overburdened communities from pollutants.  The law requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection...


ACOEL Announces New Website
March 2, 2021

The American College of Environmental Lawyers is pleased to announce the availability of its new website to ACOEL members...

ACOEL announces the admission of 27 new active Fellows for 2020
October 1, 2020

ACOEL is pleased to announce the admission of 27 new active Fellows for 2020. The names of our new...