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On The Environment

Friday, April 24, 2015

Trying Not to Fall Through the Fracking Governance Gap

Over the past year I have been working on a project to define the local impacts of hydraulic fracturing and to develop frameworks for governing these impacts at the local level. The premise of this project is simple: federal and state law do not, and are not meant to, address uniquely local impacts from the hydraulic fracturing "boom." Along with my collaborators, John Nolon and Jessica Bacher from the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School, and a brilliant team of students from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale Law School, we have identified dozens of these local impacts, including traffic and road degradation, noise and visual blight, stress on public services, and loss of farmland or recreational space. A new study published today in Science is a reminder that some of the impacts of hydraulic fracturing scale from local to national in scope and that the criticality of local governance does not undercut the importance of cooperative governance with federal and state policymakers. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gathering Voices, Emboldening Change, Harnessing Momentum:

On February 28, 2015, students, faculty, community leaders, businesspeople, and government officials alike gathered at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for the 5th annual New Directions in Environmental Law Conference: Harnessing Momentum.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Conversation with Natalia Greene about the Rights of Nature in Ecuador

As part of a major restructuring of the country’s legal framework, in 2008 Ecuador adopted a new Constitution by means of a national referendum. The 2008 Constitution – the country’s 20th – had a special component that made it different from any other constitution worldwide: it was the first Constitution to grant essential rights to Nature. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cataloguing Impacts of the Shale Boom: A Foundation for Local Governance

The shale boom has stirred deep controversy across the United States.  With vast domestic deposits of natural gas and tight oil now both geologically and economically accessible, many stakeholders, from developers to landowners, are seeking to gain.  But others are sounding alarms over contaminated wells, methane flares, and toxic spills.  Federal and state authorities, with slow regulatory responses and minimal stake in local impacts, are often leaving local governments to navigate this controversy – and the many impacts of “fracking” – with constrained budgets and limited capacity.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Land Tenure and Sustainable Agriculture

This is the third and final post in a three-part series about agroforestry. In this post Elias Kohn explores the issue of land tenure and how secure tenure can promote sustainable practices.

News

Take a deep breath. Hold it. Now, release. Breathing is an amazing bodily function, one that is fundamental to life and an act that we do both automatically and conscientiously. Though we are acutely aware of changes in our breathing—too fast, too shallow, too loud—most people give little thought to what is in the air we breathe.

With an estimated 3.4 million deaths annually attributed to outdoor air pollution, this lack of awareness is concerning. To better understand the linkages between air quality and human heath, a group of the world’s leading scientists convened by theEnvironmental Performance Index at Yale University came together to review the latest science on air pollution and explore how the next generation of air quality indicators can be made more useful for policy purposes.

Daniel Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, believes that better battery storage — a holy grail for scientists worldwide — is the key to solving the intermittency problem.
During remarks delivered at the Yale Environmental Law Association’s New Directions in Environmental Law conference last weekend, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat who has wrestled for years with his Republican counterparts on the issue of global warming, described the GOP as being somewhat at sea on the climate issue.
Vietnam’s rapid growth has had drastic environmental consequences with polluted waterways and extensive biodiversity loss. The country is rated 136 out of 178 countries on the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, including a rating of 170 for air quality. That puts its overall environmental performance behind China (118), but its air pollution is not as heavy as the notorious smog choking many Chinese cities.
For the first time, faculty from Yale Law School, Yale Divinity School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies are offering a course together.
Of 178 countries and principalities, Thailand rates 78th overall, right in the middle. In Southeast Asia it's behind Malaysia and Singapore but ahead of the other nations. For air quality, Thailand rates 145, which is near the bottom, but not as low as India or China, which are in the basement.
Clouds of smoke rise above mounds of burning rags and garbage, engulfing the area in unbearable smog and stench. Splendid cars carrying well-groomed passengers pass by the mess. How would the passengers take notice of this open dumpsite? The windowpanes are rolled up and appear to be hazy with the vapour created by artificial air-cooling systems within the cars. The comfort takes us to a world where no smog, no stench can ever reach us, or so we wish.

Princeton University researchers have uncovered a previously unknown, and possibly substantial, source of the greenhouse gas methane to the Earth's atmosphere.
For this #MapMonday we return to Yale’s Environmental Performance group, featured previously here on #MapMonday. The newly released biodiversity map brings together a whopping amount of data to detail the state (quality not just quantity) of species around the world, and while the staggering diversity of life on our planet is breathtaking (and sometimes pretty weird), the overall picture is grim.



Programs

Environmental Attitudes and Behavior

According to multiple 2004 polls, 60 percent of Americans think U.S. environmental quality is fair or poor and nearly as many are convinced that the environment is growing worse.
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