SPRING ISSUE 2021

Image by Keith Luke

BY: KEVIN GODFREY

Although President Trump saw few prominent legislative accomplishments, his Administration impacted the country in ways sure to outlast his one term in office. From 2017 to 2020, the Republican controlled Senate confirmed conservative judicial appointments en masse. Meanwhile, the agencies within the Executive branch undertook considerable efforts to reshape federal regulatory policy on an array of fronts. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the field of environmental law. The Trump appointees not only rolled back the regulatory efforts of the Obama Administration, but also went after some of the hallmark laws of the environmental movement in the United States, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

 

Measured by the metric of how many species it has preserved, the ESA is one of the most successful pieces of conservation legislation in American history. The ESA has historically held bipartisan support, but developers and the fossil fuel companies have pressed Republican lawmakers to ease some of the Act’s protections.

 

This note will begin by providing background on the ESA and discussing the current state of the law vis-a-vi the climate crisis. From there, this note will focus on one of the Trump Administration’s revisions to regulations which govern the listing of new threatened or endangered species under Section 4 of the Act. Next, this note will discuss, in the event that the rule change is upheld, the potential implications regarding the future listing of species whose primary threat is climate change. Lastly, this note will explore the legal arguments against the rule change, specifically that it does not warrant deference under the Chevron Doctrine.

Image by Shot by Cerqueira

BY: DOV GREENBAUM

The international community’s concern for the environmental impacts in outer space is predates the 1972 Stockholm Declaration and is often viewed as the first fundamental international statement on the protection of the environment. As Space Exploration continues to ramp up, with both private and public actors seeking to go boldly where few have gone before, there is a growing need to assess the protocols currently in place to both protect the space environments from earth-based contamination, as well as to protect the Earth from space contaminants. Recent crashes of probes on the lunar surface and intentional launches of microscopic life forms and other biological matter into outer space by public and private actors raise questions about the efficacy of the current regulatory scheme, which was designed before commercial space exploration was envisioned to the degree that it exists. This Article outlines planetary protection protocols, analyzes a case study of lunar contamination, the history of planetary protection regulations, and humanity's historic contamination of the moon, before pointing to effective models of terrestrial international environmental treaties and agreements that provide useful guidance for developing new planetary protection protocols.

Image by Ales Krivec

BY: JOSHUA HILLIARD

Neoliberalism is a nebulous concept and one that is often hard to define. It has been the ruling political and economic ideology of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In this note, I will define neoliberalism, examine neoliberal environmental management, and a newer wrinkle to neoliberalism — “green” neoliberalism. I will then examine the effects, mostly negative, that neoliberal environmental management and green neoliberalism has had on workers, property rights of natural resources, and combating environmental degradation and catastrophic climate change through multiple case studies.

Image by Priscilla Du Preez

BY: KATRINA L. WILKINSON

Clothing is one of life’s necessities. Fashion—the prevailing style of clothing of a particular time—offers an important medium through which people from all walks of life can express themselves through personal style.1 While the garments we put on our back may be an indispensable part of daily life, many take for granted where they come from and how they entered their wardrobe. The fashion industry, for all its merits, takes a major toll on resource use and has broad environmental impacts. From cultivation of fibers that will later become textiles, to dyeing processes, to consumption, the clothes we wear impact our environment at every step.

 

The emergence of the “fast fashion” industry—the rapid production of inexpensive clothing to mimic the ever-changing trends of high-fashion labels—has exacerbated these effects. Popular retailers like H&M and Zara have a wide global reach. Although these retailers made explicit commitments to responsible use and production with in-store textile recycling and rewards programs, the actual value of these efforts is less clear. In contrast, other retailers like The Reformation and Everlane founded their brands on the tenets of sustainable fashion. This note acknowledges the difficulty of defining “sustainable fashion” and recognizes that its overuse in general discourse has perhaps rendered the term meaningless; marketing and advertising campaigns have flung the term around with abandon and it has become more of a marketing ploy instead of an important standard. However, in an attempt to give this phrase meaning in the context of this discussion, “sustainable fashion” is defined as a system of clothing production and consumption that assesses and attempts to meaningfully reduce the impact of each stage of a garments life, from the production of the fibers to its disposal. Sustainable fashion seeks to minimize and reduce consumption of resources at all stages and can be done through forgoing use, recycling, and repurposing so as not to compromise the availability of such resources for future generations.

 

However, with these commitments to alternative materials, limited production, and longer lasting clothing comes higher costs and inaccessibility to consumers. While others have suggested that simply allowing the industry to regulate itself by promoting self-imposed labelling and encouraging consumers to change their shopping habits will correct the negative environmental impacts from the fashion industry, this paper proposes that more is needed. This note suggests that using existing legal frameworks for the imposition of international trade policies to disincentivize consumption of fast fashion and to incentive limited consumption of responsibly-made clothing is the quickest and easiest method to solve the multi-faceted problems of the fast fashion industry.