Environmental Law Institute ELI

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Environmental Law Institute ELI

United States
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Jones C.A.,Environmental Law Institute ELI | DiPinto L.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Ecosystem Services | Year: 2017

This paper examines how the United States has valued harm to public resources in natural resource liability laws and practice, an early legal application of the ecosystem-services conceptual framework. Our primary focus is on valuing harm to the difficult-to-value resources and ecological services that provide indirect or passive human uses, for which revealed preference valuation methods (based on observable behavior) are not applicable. We concentrate on the past 25. years of U.S. experience with the innovative, restoration-based framework established in regulations implementing the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. By reframing the damage claims as the cost of both "primary" restoration (to promote recovery of injured resources) and "compensatory" restoration (to account for interim losses pending recovery), the regulations deflected some of the controversy surrounding valuation methods.The restoration-based compensation framework provides two basic approaches for calculating the scale of compensatory restoration projects. A service-to-service approach, which does not require valuation, applies to projects that provide resources and ecosystem services of the same type, quality, and comparable value as those harmed. A valuation approach, intended for a broader range of applications, relies on survey-based methods.For injuries to ecological services, we found trustees have relied almost exclusively on habitat equivalency analysis (HEA), a service-to-service approach, adapting its use to applications where restoration projects make resource and/or ecosystem services substitutions. We explore how the trustees address the challenge of characterizing the equivalency between injury and restoration resources and ecosystem services through the choice of restoration projects and the choice of the ecosystem service metrics. Widely used in the U.S. and EU, the restoration-based measure of damages and the associated HEA methodology may be useful for other countries. © 2017.

Bruch C.,Environmental Law Institute ELI | Boulicault M.,ELI | Talati S.,ELI | Jensen D.,United Nations Environment Programme UNEP
Review of European Community and International Environmental Law | Year: 2012

Since the end of the Cold War, peacebuilding efforts and international environmental law have developed independently and in very different manners. Experiences in managing natural resources to support post-conflict peacebuilding in dozens of countries over the past twenty years, however, highlight the critical role that natural resources often play. The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) provides an opportunity to consider the lessons from these experiences and provide a vision for future consolidation of approaches. This article reviews the development of peacebuilding, highlighting the importance of natural resources. It then surveys the status of international law governing post-conflict peacebuilding, including international environmental law. Looking forward, it considers the likely directions of international law in governing post-conflict peacebuilding, concluding with thoughts on how to capitalize on Rio+20 to advance more effective approaches. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Breggin L.,Environmental Law Institute ELI | Myers Jr. D.B.,Environmental Law Institute ELI
Harvard Environmental Law Review | Year: 2013

The last century marked a sea change in the way agricultural operations are conducted. This "industrialization" of agriculture has significantly increased efficiency and yields, but it also has generated - As an unintended byproduct - pollution. The pollution resulting from commodity crop operations can have harmful effects locally and downstream. Typically, when the production of a good generates adverse environmental effects, the firm that profits from the activity is required to minimize the impacts. This is rarely the case in the agriculture sector, which is exempt from key provisions of the federal environmental laws. As a result, the harms are externalized and the public bears the pollution costs. The federal taxpayer also supports the agricultural sector through myriad farm subsidy programs. Large-scale farms - those with annual sales of $500,000 or more - represented six percent of U.S. farms in 2009 but received more than half of government commodity payments. These subsidy recipients typically are not required as a condition of receiving payments to implement measures that will protect the environment from pollution generated by on-farm activities. The authors present two recommendations for reform, neither of which would require additional federal subsidy payments. First, large-scale commodity crop operations that opt to receive any form of federal farm subsidy should assume responsibility for implementing a set of baseline stewardship measures to reduce nutrient pollution. Second, these same farms should report on the quantity, type, and timing of fertilizers they apply.

Womble P.,Environmental Law Institute ELI | Doyle M.,Duke University
Harvard Environmental Law Review | Year: 2012

With the exception of greenhouse gas trading programs, environmental markets are prisoners of their own geography - and with good reason. Climate change is a global phenomenon, and so carbon markets can be geographically all-inclusive - a ton of carbon dioxide emitted in Beijing has the same effect as a ton of carbon dioxide emitted in New York. Other environmental markets are more nuanced. Markets for water quality, biodiversity, endangered species, fisheries, air quality, and aquatic resources, to name a few, must recognize that the commodities they trade exist at particular geographic scales, and set appropriate spatial limits on the redistribution of environmental quality. The size of geographic trading areas has significant implications for the economic viability of markets and the ecological quality of their offsets. U.S. wetland and stream mitigation markets, which emerged in the 1980s, provide perhaps the most established empirical example of how environmental markets function. This Article presents the first systematic assessment of the federal and state laws, regulations, guidance, and operating practices that shape the geographic size of U.S. wetland and stream markets. This Article first addresses the history of these geographic restrictions under the Clean Water Act, the importance of spatial context for ecosystem functions and services, and the economic-ecological tradeoffs implicated by geographic trading limits. Then, based on the results of the assessment, this Article argues that regulators should increase their transparency and consistency in setting geographic trading limits. It also presents a framework for using more specific geographic limits for different types of wetland and stream offsets to enhance a market's ecological and economic stability. Lessons from setting geographic limits for wetland and stream markets can be applied to other, nascent environmental markets.

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