Each major industry within the U.S. meat sector (poultry, pork, beef) has at least one section of the supply chain that is highly consolidated — a handful of companies control most of the market. This consolidated power harms farmers, workers, and consumers, and it also damages the environment. In partnership with NRDC, EPC is investigating ways to reduce consolidation in the meat sector, with a particular emphasis on breaking up the monopoly that big agriculture companies currently have over slaughter facilities.
Ocean-based carbon dioxide removal technologies and geoengineering techniques are emerging as a new frontier in the global effort to mitigate climate change. These methods, such as ocean alkalinization, macroalgae cultivation, and cloud brightening, aim to artificially enhance the ocean’s capacity to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and/or manage heat in the ocean. While these technologies could enhance the ocean’s capacity to store carbon, they have the potential to cause harm to ocean animals and marine ecosystems, and there are limited policy frameworks for regulating them. In partnership with NRDC, EPC is investigating the developmental states of these technologies and the kinds of regulatory frameworks that may help manage their development.
The transportation sector is now the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas pollution. Under the federal Clean Air Act, although the federal government is in charge of setting vehicle emission standards, states also have some ability to adopt their own standards. Recognizing the harms caused by such pollution, many states want to adopt their own standards, and are even taking the lead to reduce emissions from cars, trucks, and buses. In partnership with NRDC, EPC is exploring states’ ability to adopt their own standards, with an emphasis on developing state-level policies centered around environmental justice and equity.
For the past several years, EPC has partnered with Our Children’s Trust, a non-profit public interest law firm, in its landmark atmospheric trust litigation brought on behalf of youth plaintiffs and future generations. The litigation is based on both constitutional and public trust principles, and challenges the federal government’s support of the fossil fuel energy system and the aggregate actions that make up that system and cause climate change.
New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) is one of the most ambitious pieces of climate legislation in the country. Its goal is to reduce emissions and create green jobs by installing solar panels, maintaining wind turbines, and retrofitting buildings. The Act also specifies that 35-40 percent of the benefits of clean energy funding generated during this transition must be invested in the “disadvantaged” communities of New York who have historically shouldered disproportionate environmental burdens and are hit first and worst by the ongoing climate crisis. EPC is working with UPROSE, a grassroots environmental justice organization based in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to help implement the CLCPA in Brooklyn. In concert with UPROSE, EPC is envisioning how green jobs could be developed in Sunset Park, what those jobs might look like for local community residents, and how the CLCPA could be leveraged to encourage the development of those jobs and minimize the negative effects of gentrification.
Healthy riparian ecosystems can provide multiple benefits for farmers and ranchers and their surrounding communities and natural environment, including increasing carbon storage, reducing downstream flooding risk, improving water quality and quantity, and providing wildlife corridors. Yet many riparian areas have become degraded. In this multi-semester project, EPC students have been helping NRDC examine riparian restoration efforts across the United States, and ways to improve and amplify them.
EPC is partnering with Kanji & Katzen, one of the premier firms protecting the sovereignty and vitality of Indian nations and their members, to help advocate for indigenous rights. This semester, EPC students are working with attorneys at Kanji & Katzen in their efforts to prevent pipeline development on Tribal lands and to ensure that Native populations are given access to federal relief funding during the coronavirus pandemic.
The citizens of Rochester recently voted overwhelmingly to create a Police Accountability Board with subpoena power, disciplinary power, rulemaking power, and other remarkable tools to fundamentally reimagine public safety. EPC is working in partnership with the University at Buffalo’s Criminal Justice Advocacy Clinic to help the Board constitute itself and execute its vision.