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April 11, 2022 by John Knox

Bipartisan Lawmakers Shine Needed Light on Bill to Protect Indigenous Communities at International Conservation Parks

Last month, I had the opportunity to do something truly extraordinary: testify before a U.S. House subcommittee on behalf of legislation with genuine bipartisan support.

The hearing, held March 29 in the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife (WOW), drew little attention from the mainstream news media. But it is newsworthy nonetheless: The legislation would strengthen human rights protections for Indigenous peoples and local communities around national parks and other protected areas around the world, by conditioning U.S. funding for them on compliance with basic human rights protections. 

It is especially remarkable in the current political environment that the bill resulted from a bipartisan investigation and that it has support from both Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.). As far as I know, it’s the first bill to be co-sponsored by these two influential lawmakers. Together with Jared Huffman (D-Cal.) and Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.), the chair and ranking member of the WOW subcommittee, Grijalva and Westerman introduced the legislation last month, a few weeks in advance of the subcommittee hearing. 

The bill’s bipartisan support signals its potential to win broad-based support — which it fully deserves — in …

April 5, 2022 by Jake Moore

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) recently made a statement bashing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the East Coast's regional cap-and-trade program intended to reduce climate pollution and energy costs for low-income households. In attacking the program, Youngkin repeated questionable claims about its costs, impacts, and benefits and made clear his desire to move the Commonwealth backwards on climate policy and the clean energy transition.

Virginia joined RGGI to meet the goals outlined in the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) and Environmental Justice Act (EJA), which were passed in 2020. Funds generated through RGGI are directed toward critical energy efficiency programs for low-income households and flood prevention.

Youngkin has long expressed interest in removing Virginia from RGGI and, through his recent executive order, began his attempt to officially leave the program. The order requires the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to conduct an analysis of the …

April 4, 2022 by Daniel Farber

This post was originally published on Legal Planet. Reprinted with permission.

The Biden administration is slowly grinding away at an important regulatory task: reconsidering the air quality standards for particulates and ozone. Setting those standards is an arduous and time-consuming process, requiring consideration of reams of technical data. For instance, a preliminary staff report on fine particulates (PM2.5) is over 600 pages long. When the process is done, the result will not only be better protection of public health. It will also be a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming agents.

Quick legal background: The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set national ambient air quality standards or NAAQS (pronounced "knacks"). They are supposed to be set at a level that, "allowing an adequate margin of safety, are requisite to protect the public health." They're supposed to be revised every five …

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