2017 Top 10 Environmental Watch List: 'Has the Clean Power Plan Been Trumped?'

Environmental faculty and student editors of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (VJEL) at Vermont Law School today announced publication of their annual "Vermont Law Top 10 Environmental Watch List," highlighting critical law and policy issues they believe will escalate in 2017. The list, in its seventh year, features articles co-authored by legal scholars on topics ranging from the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy to how President-elect Donald Trump might quash the Clean Power Plan and limit the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Top 10 Environmental Watch List, written with a lay audience in mind, is available online at watchlist.vermontlaw.edu. The list includes the following articles:

1. Dakota Access Pipeline: The Calm Between the Storms
2. Has the Clean Power Plan Been Trumped?
3. Lead, Water and Injustice in Flint and Beyond
4. Debate Over Ownership of Public Lands
5. Public Litigation for Public Harms: China's Revised Environmental Protection Law
6. Confronting Coal Ash
7. Juliana v. United States: Does the Constitution Guarantee a Livable Planet for Our Kids?
8. Exxon Knew
9. Après Paris: Implementing the Paris Agreement in Uncertain Times
10. Amended Toxic Substances Control Act

In addition to the Top 10 Environmental Watch List, VJEL editors published a bonus blog feature titled "The Trump Watch: What Does the New Administration Portend for the Environment?"*, written by Professor Mark Latham and VJEL Editor Rachel Oest JD'18.

"To date, the incoming Trump administration has shown a predilection toward agency heads who have previously opposed the mission of their agency, have strong ties to the fossil fuel industry, and have denied the existence of climate change," said Associate Dean Melissa Scanlan, director of the Environmental Law Center at VLS, in her introduction to the Top 10 Environmental Watch List. "Will the Senate play along with this deliberately destructive plan and confirm these nominations?"

"The goal of the Top 10 Environmental Watch List is to share with readers the most important environmental issues to watch in the upcoming year so that, as a community, we can work to address them," said Rebecca Blackmon JD'17, VJEL editor-in-chief. "Some of the issues this year include the Dakota Access Pipeline, the question of whether the Constitution guarantees a livable planet for kids, environmental justice implications in light of Flint and Exxon, and many uncertainties likely to arise following the presidential inauguration in January."

"Our students and faculty analyzed current environmental issues and decisions that will affect the world not only in the upcoming year, but also for generations to come," Blackmon said. "The new administration makes gaining knowledge about these issues evermore important."

For more information about the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, including a Top 10 archives, visit vjel.vermontlaw.edu or email RebeccaBlackmon@vermontlaw.edu. For more information about environmental programs at Vermont Law School, including degrees and clinical training, visit the Environmental Law Center online at vermontlaw.edu/ELC.

*Vermont Law School does not endorse or oppose any particular view or position on this matter. This blog should not be construed as the school's endorsement of, or opposition to, any particular view on this subject.


Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, is home to the nation's largest and deepest environmental law program. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; three Master's Degrees—Master of Environmental Law and Policy, Master of Energy Regulation and Law, and Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy; and four post-JD degrees —LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, LLM in Environmental Law, and LLM in Food and Agriculture Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, South Royalton Legal Clinic, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Energy Clinic, Food and Agriculture Clinic, and Center for Applied Human Rights. For more information, visit vermontlaw.edu, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.​