Lawyers, Legal Scholars Name Top 10 Environmental Issues to Watch in 2019

Environmental law scholars and editors of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (VJEL) at Vermont Law School today announced publication of the 2019 “Vermont Law Top 10 Environmental Watch List,” which highlights critical law and policy issues they believe will escalate in the coming year. The list features articles co-authored by VLS students and faculty on topics ranging from the Trump administration’s America First Energy Plan to its assault on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“The last 12 months have been a demolition derby as the Trump administration attempted to roll back one environmental law after another,” said Associate Dean Jennifer Rushlow, director of the Environmental Law Center (ELC) at VLS, in her introduction to the Top 10 Environmental Watch List. “If last year's Top 10 was a warning call, this year’s is a fire alarm. This laundry list of attempted regulatory rollbacks and subsequent litigation does not exist in a vacuum, but rather in the context of an environment in need of a lifeline.”

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

  1. From Civil Rights to Nuisance: Novel Approaches to Battling Climate Change
  2. Launching the Trump Administration Assault on NEPA
  3. Natural Disasters: Developing Resiliency and Addressing Climate Refugees
  4. The Farm Bill’s Uncertain Future
  5. Trump’s America First Energy Plan Puts Industry First, Environment Last
  6. Courts and States Uphold Environmental Interests as the EPA Favors Toxic Chemicals
  7. China’s Waste Ban Exposes Missing Links in Recycling
  8. Going Backwards: Rollback of Carbon Pollution Regulations
  9. Groundwater Pollution: A Circuit Split Inviting Supreme Court Review
  10. Rights of Nature: Seeing the Forests and Trees

“The Top 10 Environmental Watch List serves to address the important environmental issues destined to arise in 2019,” said Dillon Post JD’19, VJEL editor-in-chief. “Here, Vermont Law School faculty and Vermont Journal of Environmental Law editors examine each forecasted issue, discuss the legal framework, and explain what developments we should expect in the coming year.”

In addition to producing the Top 10, VJEL and the ELC partnered to create “Hothouse Earth,” a podcast series they plan to launch in January 2019. The podcast series will expand on each Top 10 article and include guest commentary. 

For more information about the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, including a Top 10 archives, visit or email For more information about environmental programs at Vermont Law School, including degrees and clinical training, visit the Environmental Law Center online at