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News Release

Legal Scholars Release Top 10 Environmental Watch List for 2021

Tuesday, February 2, 2021


Environmental law scholars and editors of Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (VJEL) at Vermont Law School (VLS) today announced publication of the 2021 “Vermont Law Top 10 Environmental Watch List.” The list highlights the most pressing environmental law and policy issues—from environmental justice, to the new presidential administration, to the pandemic—that will shape the coming year.

“To say 2020 was apocalyptic is an understatement,” said Associate Dean and Environmental Law Center Director Jenny Rushlow. “At the same time, we are wrapping up a presidential administration that has decimated environmental protections, with a new Biden presidency on the horizon—and cautious optimism is creeping in.”

Released annually, topics on the Watch List are accompanied by journal articles, each co-authored by a VLS student and a faculty member. Written with a lay audience in mind, the articles are available online at

The 2021 list includes:
1. Environmental Justice in 2020: Racial Disparities Shocking, but not Surprising
2. An Era of Pandemics: How China and the U.S. Must Take the Lead in Wildlife and Human Health Protection
3. Making America Green Again: Rejoining the Paris Agreement on Day One of the Biden-Harris Administration is a Welcome First Step
4. Wildfires, Air Pollution, and the EPA
5. COVID-19’s Shot Across the Bow: Create Resilient Regional Food Systems
6. Climate Science and Energy Policy Heading in Opposite Directions
7. Kenya’s Petrochemical Problem: Negotiating the U.S.-Kenya Free Trade Agreement
8. Unearthing Virtual Pipelines
9. To Rebuild or Not to Rebuild? An Examination of NEPA and the Environmental Regulatory State
10. Looming United States Water Wars

The project involves close collaboration between professors and student editors. “Even though we had to be physically distant, developing the Watch List gave us some sense of normalcy in communicating with faculty that we no longer see in the hallways at VLS,” said VJEL editor Hunter Sutherland JD’21. “I am proud of the passion and resilience shown by these students and their faculty partners.”

“As we look ahead to 2021, the Vermont Law School community remains steadfastly focused on the future, honing our skills to protect future generations, said Associate Dean Rushlow. “Let’s use the warning calls on the Watch List to batten the hatches, band together, and move forward.”

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