An article co-written by Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar David Adelman and Attorney Advisor at the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) Jori Reilly-Diakun was selected for inclusion in this year’s Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review (ELPAR). ELPAR is a student-edited volume published annually in the August issue of the Environmental Law Reporter. It features abridged versions of selected articles with commentary from environmental experts.
Adelman, a law professor at the University of Texas, holds a Ph.D. in chemical physics and a law degree from Stanford University. Previously, he worked on environmental cases as a staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, promoting environmentally conscious practices. He was appointed to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Environmental Management Advisory Board and has served on multiple committees as a science expert.
His and Reilly-Diakun’s article, “Environmental Citizen Suits and the Inequities of Races to the Top,” was selected from a pool of hundreds of law journal articles focusing on environmental topics. Originally published in the University of Colorado Law Review, the article will be featured as a condensed version for ELPAR’s 15th edition, which will be published in August 2022.
Their article notes that some federal environmental laws make it relatively easy for individuals and organizations to file citizen suits against environmental agencies, but other laws present significant barriers to such cases.
Citizen suit provisions are supposed to be designed to provide a backstop to lax federal or state enforcement, but Adelman and Reilly-Diakun found that such cases are most commonly filed in states with a strong record of environmental protection and enforcement — not in states with lax environmental policies. They propose recommendations to address limited resources in filing a citizen suit and the inequitable geographic distribution of such lawsuits.
ELPAR features condensed versions of the year’s best environmental law and policy ideas to reach a wider audience of policymakers. Articles are selected through a review process led by students of Vanderbilt University Law School, senior staff at the Environmental Law Institute, and an advisory committee of environmental experts. Member Scholar Victor Flatt also received an honorable mention in this year’s edition for his article, “Holding Polluters Accountable in Times of Climate and COVID Risk: The Problems with ‘Emergency’ Enforcement Waivers,” which was originally published in the San Diego Journal of Climate and Energy Law.