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News Release

Vermont Law School Students and Professors Release List of Top 10 Environmental Issues to Watch in 2022

Monday, December 13, 2021


Group photo of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law team
     The VJEL student editorial team

Environmental law scholars and editors of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (VJEL) at Vermont Law School (VLS) today released the Top 10 Environmental Watch List for 2022. The list highlights the most pressing environmental issues bearing on law and policy—from Biden’s environmental justice goals and the electric vehicle revolution, to climate change-fueled natural disasters and animal welfare standards—that will shape the coming year.

"Despite an ongoing pandemic and the growing urgency of the climate crisis, we’ve found reason for cautious optimism in 2021 with the revival of some important environmental protections that had been decimated and the federal government’s commitment to environmental justice," said VLS Associate Dean and Environmental Law Center Director Jennifer Rushlow. “But our students understand that there is still much work to do. They have identified the issues that deserve closer attention and accountability if we are to make true progress in 2022.”

Each item on the Watch List is accompanied by a journal article co-authored by a law student and a law professor. The process of narrowing down and exploring these topics involves close collaboration between professors and student editors. Each resulting article, written with a lay audience in mind, unravels the legal framework of the issue and explains why it matters. The articles are available online at

The 2022 list includes:

  1. Tracking the Biden Administration’s Whole-of-Government Approach to Equity and Environmental Justice
  2. State by State: Setting Farmed Animal Welfare Standards 
  3. The National Flood Insurance Program and the Growing Cost of Natural Disasters in the Era of Climate Change 
  4. Environmental and Economic Equity in the Electric Vehicle Revolution
  5. Ecocide: Can The International Criminal Court Hold Polluters Accountable For Mass Environmental Destruction?
  6. Biden’s 30x30 Executive Order: Challenges and Prospects for Natural Resource Conservation 
  7. The United Nations Food Systems Summit: The Milestone, the Fallout, and Looking Ahead
  8. Beyond the Fence-line: SCOTUS’ Grants Petitions Challenging EPA’s Authority to Regulate Coal-fired Emissions
  9. Running Dry: An Emptying Hourglass on Biden’s Climate Goals
  10. Up Next for Infrastructure: All Eyes on Federal Agencies

“Many of the Watch List items take a critical look at the Biden administration’s ambitious environmental and environmental justice initiatives,” said VJEL editor-in-chief and Vermont Law School student Michelle Amidzich. “While we’re hopeful that these initiatives will yield meaningful change, it’s crucial that they are properly implemented to ensure environmental protection will withstand future presidential turnover. The world is watching how the U.S. will tackle these issues.”

Founded in 1996 at Vermont Law School, the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law provides an accessible forum to discuss contemporary environmental legal issues, publishing high-quality articles authored by academics, practitioners, and students. In addition to its annual Watch List, the journal publishes quarterly issues, hosts an annual symposium, collaborates with other environmental law journals by participating in the Environmental Law Review Syndicate, and brings commentary on environmental legal issues to non-lawyers via its colloquium EcoPerspectives Blog.

To view current and past Top 10 Environmental Watch Lists, 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