Environmental Law Institute

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Environmental Law Institute
Founded 1969
  • Washington, DC
Scott Fulton
Slogan Making the law work for people, places, and the planet.
Website www.eli.org

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is a non-profit, non-advocacy environmental group, which specializes in producing publications and research that target legal practitioners, business leaders, land managers, land use planners, environmentalists, journalists, and lawmakers. ELI also convenes conferences to promote the exchange of ideas; holds seminars to educate legal practitioners and business leaders; and publishes original research, both as monographs and in its periodicals, the Environmental Law Reporter, The Environmental Forum, and the National Wetlands Newsletter.

Vision and mission[edit]

ELI’s vision calls for “a healthy environment, prosperous economies, and vibrant communities founded on the rule of law.” What ELI does to help guide society toward that vision is described in its mission statement:

ELI fosters innovative, just, and practical law and policy solutions to enable leaders across borders and sectors to make environmental, economic, and social progress. ELI:

  • Builds the skills and capacity of tomorrow’s leaders and institutions
  • Researches and analyzes complex and pressing environmental challenges
  • Promotes and disseminates the best thinking through print and electronic media
  • Convenes people with diverse perspectives to build understanding through robust debate[1]


Research & Policy staff: A portion of ELI’s researchers are attorneys with specialties in various aspects of environmental law. Other researchers include scientists, policy analysts, and visiting scholars from outside the United States.

Associates: The ELI Associates Program is the preeminent network for current and future leaders in the environmental law and policy profession. Members from all sectors gain access to basic training through ELI’s respected boot camps, timely analysis of issues in ELI’s policy and law journals and its website, sophisticated seminars with experts debating pressing topics from diverse perspectives, and unmatched opportunities to connect with public officials, friends and peers at events such as the annual ELI Award Dinner. The program offers members benefits and contacts..

ELI associates pay an annual subscription fee. Unlike other member-based organizations, ELI does not represent its associates or try to promote their activities. Associates receive ELI’s major publications at free or discounted prices, and their employees attend ELI’s educational seminars, such as its boot camps on environmental law, free of charge.

Board: A board of directors provides oversight to the Institute. The board members are leaders from federal and state government, industry, the private bar, citizen organizations, and academia.

Funding: Most of ELI’s funding comes from project-specific grants from major organizations, foundations, and government agencies.

Major research areas[edit]

ELI’s research is organized into six major areas: climate and energy; international programs; environmental governance; environmental health; land and biodiversity; and freshwater and ocean resources. Under each of these six umbrellas are the research programs, most of which are managed independently of other programs. For example, under Water Resources there are programs addressing oceans, wetlands, international waters, and water quality. Within the Oceans Program are publications on sustainable fisheries; conferences to develop laws that foster ecosystem-based management; and continuing legal education seminars on issues ranging from ocean-based shipping to the potential for wave-generated electricity. Each of the six major program areas is this diverse, and most of the research done by ELI has such a focus on single issues. ELI typically publishes the results of its research in research reports.

Climate and Energy International Programs Environmental Governance Environmental Health Land & Biodiversity Freshwater and Ocean
Climate and Energy

Land & Biodiversity Program

Ocean Program

Invasive Species Program

Industrial Agriculture Law and Policy Center

International Waters Program

Africa Program

Armed Conflict and the Environment

China Program

Educational Workshops

India Program

Inter-America Program

International Waters Program

Judicial Education Program


Visiting Scholars

Center for State, Local & Regional Environmental Programs

Endangered Environmental Laws

Judicial Education Program

Nanotechnology Initiative

Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review

Brownfields Center

Community Environmental Health & Justice

Green Building & Indoor Environment

Biodiversity Conservation

Ecosystem Services

Invasive Species

Long-Term Stewardship of Contaminated Sites

State Biodiversity

Sustainable Use of Land


Water Quality

Water Resources

Western Water

Wetlands Conservation


Most of the work done by the ELI research and policy staff becomes reports that are produced in-house and published electronically. ELI makes these reports available, usually free of charge, on their Web site. In addition, ELI’s publications arm—the ELI Press—produces a number of periodicals and books that are well renowned in their field.


ELI’s periodicals are considered the publications of record in their respective fields.

  • The Environmental Law Reporter (ELR) News & Analysis is the Institute’s flagship publication and is noted as the most often cited environmental law review. Publishing submissions from academic and practicing attorneys, the journal’s authors review court cases, laws, legal trends, and agency actions. Articles address topics in state and federal law. ELR News & Analysis is issued 12 times per year and has a circulation of 850 organizational subscribers. A recent addition to the ELR suite of products is ELR India Update, a quarterly newsletter to inform environmental professionals about new developments in Indian environmental law. Written by the premier Indian law firm Kochhar & Co. and edited by ELR’s professional staff, this reporting service covers environmental legal and policy developments at the national and state level.
  • The Environmental Forum (TEF) is ELI’s non-technical publication, founded in 1982. Like ELR, it publishes articles primarily written by authors outside ELI’s research staff. Unlike ELR, however, TEF is written for a general audience. It keeps its readership abreast of developments in environmentalism, particularly with respect to legislation and enforcement. TEF is available only to ELI Associates as a membership benefit and is not a subscription item. It comes out bimonthly to a circulation of 3500.
  • The Journal of Energy and Environmental Law (JEEL) is a student run journal published by The George Washington University Law School in cooperation with ELI. Issued twice each year as a supplement to ELI’s Environmental Law Reporter (ELR) News & Analysis, the first edition was released in July 2010, with the subsequent edition to appear in January 2011. The annual subscription rate is US$30. The journal will focus on both energy-related and environment-related legal and policy issues and their intersections. It is particularly interested in articles addressing international treaties, legislative initiatives in other countries, U.S. federal and state legislation, and case law developments dealing with issues.
  • The National Wetlands Newsletter (NWN) is the Institute’s journal on wetlands law and policy. The bimonthly newsletter has been published since 1979. It covers wetland regulation, policy, science, and management, and includes articles written by outside wetland professionals and academics as well as news items contributed by the editorial staff. NWN has over 1000 readers.


ELI Press publishes books by outside authors which are sold via telephone and through the online bookstore of the ELI Press. Over the years, some of the most popular publications have been The Practical Guide to Environmental Management, now in its 11th edition, and The Environmental Law Deskbook, now in its eighth edition. The latter is one of dozens of types of Deskbooks that ELI has produced.

List of selected associates[edit]


  1. ^ [1] ELI Message from the President and Chairman

External links[edit]