Monthly Archives: February 2017

Alabama Criminal Justice and the Sex-Trafficking SuperHighway By: Alexis Killough

Alabama Criminal Justice and the Sex-Trafficking SuperHighway

By: Alexis Killough

America is fundamentally disinclined to accept slavery of any type as a violation of basic civil rights. Despite that disinclination, serious human rights violations in the form of human trafficking are prevalent in today’s national society. In spite of superficial appearances or lack of media attention, there is a well-developed and strongly established system of human trafficking in place in and around Alabama.[1] The Well House, a nonprofit organization in Birmingham, Alabama dedicated to sheltering and rehabilitating women who were trafficked or prostituted throughout Alabama and the Southeast, identified Interstate Twenty as The Sex Trafficking Superhighway in their documentary by the same name.[2] This well-traveled road runs right through the heart of Alabama, connecting South Carolina to Texas, passing several well-known active international airports and port cities. They explain that more slaves are sold now in America than in the year before the Civil War, and that “75% of these humans are trafficked as sex slaves.”[3] The average girl trafficked for sex on Interstate Twenty is only sixteen years old, though there have been girls as young as thirteen lured into the business.[4] Frequently, when the police get involved, they arrest the girls who are prostituting, just to get them off of the streets, though generally without tracing down and arresting their pimp or trafficker.[5] According to Polaris Project data compiled from December 7th, 2007 to September 30th, 2016, the Polaris Project’s hotlines received 954 calls from Alabama, from which they found 255 cases of potential human trafficking.[6] Nearly half of the victims from these cases were foreign nationals, not United States citizens.[7] This indicates that individuals are being trafficked into Alabama for sex and labor, not just being removed and traded to elsewhere, so the trafficking through Alabama has national and international implications.

The Alabama code defines Human Trafficking in the First Degree, a Class A Felony, as knowingly subjecting another person to servitude through the use of coercion or deception.[8] Alabama also lays out the crime of Human Trafficking in the Second Degree, a Class B Felony, for anyone who knowingly benefits from engagement in said illegal coerced servitude.[9] A victim’s history of sexual activity or voluntary prostitution, connection to defendant by blood or marriage, consent, or a mistake as to the age of the victim are not defenses to human trafficking under Alabama law.[10] However, victims of human trafficking who are charged with offenses relating to their status as trafficked individuals may use that fact as a defense against any charges arising out of their trafficked status, such as prostitution.[11] Finally, the Alabama human trafficking criminal laws demand that the defendant, upon conviction, will have to pay restitution to the victim, including medical and psychological treatment costs, transportation costs, value of the labor given by the victim, and any other expenses or losses incurred by the victim as a result of the defendant’s wrongdoing, regardless of whether the victim remains in America for recovery or returns to their home country or another country for shelter.[12] For any additional monetary damages, victims are permitted to bring a civil suit against their trafficker for compensatory or punitive damages, among other relief measures.[13]

In addition to those basic provisions, Alabama laws provide additional protections to juveniles who are or may be victims of human trafficking. A child under the age of 18 who is a victim of human trafficking cannot be adjudicated delinquent or transferred to adult court and criminally convicted for prostitution and juvenile intake officers are ordered to look into the social history of each child reported for prostitution to determine if they might be a victim of human trafficking.[14] Instead of punishing those juvenile victims for their illegal acts, Alabama juvenile courts will declare them to be a child in need of supervision, allowing them to come under the protection of the juvenile system and receive all of the requisite social services without punishing them for a situation that was beyond their control.[15] This further protects the juvenile from the stigma of delinquency status in addition to the stigma of being a trafficking victim and allows them to recover from their situation and return to a normal life.

In compliance with and assistance to the enforcement of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, the United States Department of State produces and publishes annual reports on international human trafficking evaluating the overall status of human trafficking, as well as investigating each country’s compliance with the Protocol.[16] It compiles information from embassies, governmental and non-governmental organization, reports and news articles, research trips, and academic studies.[17] With that information, the Department places countries into a tiered ranking system: Tier 1 indicates that the country’s government has acknowledged the problem and made efforts to address it while meeting the Trafficking Victim Protection Act’s minimum standards in that regard; Tier 2 indicates that the country’s government is not fully in compliance with the Trafficking Victim Protection Act’s standards, but are working towards compliance; Tier 2 Watch List includes countries who fit into Tier 2 but have a significant and/or increasing number of trafficking victims; Tier 3 countries are not in compliance nor are they making significant strides towards compliance.[18]

Alabama, evaluated as an independent country, rather than a state, would likely be ranked by the United States Department of State as a Tier 2 country in a Trafficking in Persons Report. From the surface, Alabama seems like it would easily be a Tier 1 country; the laws in place offer thorough protection to victims and leave plenty of room to properly prosecute and punish perpetrators.[19] This is unsurprising, given that Alabama is of course part of the United States, itself a Tier 1 country.[20] However, the enforcement of those laws seems to be the downfall of the state. As explained above and in The Well House’s documentary on human trafficking in Alabama, police in Alabama often arrest human trafficking victims for prostitution.[21] This seems to put Alabama, viewed independently, more in line with Albania, a Tier 2 country.[22] Both Albania and Alabama have good laws in place but have some problems when it comes to strictly following that legislation.[23]

Quite frankly, it is shameful that Alabama would only receive a Tier 2 ranking. As part of the United States of America, it is expected that Alabama would be a shining example of how to handle human rights issues surrounding human trafficking, just as the United States is regarded as being. Fortunately, however, the existing problems are relatively minor. Unlike the Tier 3 countries, Alabama at least has the appropriate legislation and infrastructure in place to protect the rights of human trafficking victim’s the way it should. All it will take is an adjustment in a few enforcement mechanisms and maybe a shift in the general mindset of some law enforcement. Instead of arresting every person suspected of being a prostitute, police should engage in a dialogue with that individual, gaining a social history on the person, before deciding the appropriate course of action. While the fact that juvenile courts and criminal courts will protect trafficked individuals once charges are brought and their status as trafficking victims is revealed, the arrest itself is stigmatizing and traumatizing. Instead, it would be ideal if those victims were treated as such from the moment they first encounter law enforcement. Then, law enforcement can take on the protective reputation they should ideally embody and the victims will feel safe, something Alabama can be proud of. Alabama is rarely, if ever, on the cutting edge, but protecting the human rights of trafficking victims in compliance with international standards would offer the state a chance to stand out for something positive.

[1] Till Spencer, The I-20 Story: The Sex Trafficking Superhighway, The WellHouse,

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Alabama, National Human Trafficking Resource Center,

[7] Id.

[8] Ala. Code § 13A-6-152.

[9] Ala. Code § 13A-6-153.

[10] Ala. Code § 13A-6-154.

[11] Ala. Code § 13A-6-159.

[12] Ala. Code § 13A-6-155.

[13] Ala. Code § 13A-6-157.

[14] Ala. Code § 12-15-701.

[15] Id.

[16] See, U.S. Dep’t of State, Trafficking Persons Report 2016.

[17] U.S. Dep’t of State, Trafficking Persons Report 2016, at 36 (2016).

[18] U.S. Dep’t of State, Trafficking Persons Report 2016, at 36-39 (2016).

[19] See, Ala. Code § 13A-6-(150-160).

[20] U.S. Dep’t of State, Trafficking Persons Report 2016, at 387 (2016).

[21] Spencer, supra note 8.

[22] U.S. Dep’t of State, Trafficking Persons Report 2016, at 68 (2016).

[23] U.S. Dep’t of State, Trafficking Persons Report 2016, at 68 (2016).


Adequate Access to Court: The Hurdles to Prison Litigation in Federal Court when Considering the Effect of PLRA and Limitations of LSC. By: Ashley Austin

Adequate Access to Court: The Hurdles to Prison Litigation in Federal Court when Considering the Effect of PLRA and Limitations of LSC.

By: Ashley Austin

Congress enacted the Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996 on April 26, 1996.[1] The purpose of this Act was to “mak[e] appropriations for fiscal year 1996 to make a further downpayment toward a balanced budget, and for other purposes” which seemed to be a typical fiscal bill; however, this Act would change the lives of hundreds of thousands of incarcerated individuals across the United States.[2] Contained within Title VIII of this act, the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 was also enacted but received little acknowledgement.[3] Less than a year after this act, a regulation concerning the services provided by the Legal Services Corporation further changed prisoners’ access to the court system.[4] These two seemingly small enacted rules would have massive impacts on the civil rights of prisoners, specifically the ability to challenge conditions without needing to afford an attorney.

Although prisoners lose many rights upon incarceration, one right that remains protected while in custody is the right to access courts.[5] This right, grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, ensures that violations of constitutional rights can be addressed and further violations can be prevented.[6] However, the extent of this right in most cases is limited to providing inmates with reasonable access to law libraries and the use of materials (such as paper and pencils) to prepare their submissions to the court.[7] While it is only required that reasonable access to a law library is required, the Court in Bounds speaks in dicta about the usefulness and possible benefits of having legal counsel assist prisoners in their civil cases.[8] The language in Bounds that seems to push for a more accessible court system is but a dream. After 1997, it has been almost impossible for credible claims coming from correctional setting to make it to court for consideration on the merits.

Many factors are in place that block a prisoner’s access to having their concerns heard in court: 1) the existence of complicated administrative remedies, 2) the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 3) financial hurdles of many prisoners, and 4) the lack of legal aid provided to assist prisoners. Each of these aspects will be discussed in part below, with primary attention on the PLRA and lack of legal aid for prisoners. Additionally, possible areas of improvement will be provided upon conclusion.

Administrative remedies, or grievances as they are often called in prisons, in theory are quick and easy ways for the administration within the prison to address the concerns and issues of those housed within the prisons. However, many criticisms regarding the adequacy of the grievance system have been pointed out by attorneys focusing on prison litigation that have yet to be addressed. For instance, the grievance system at place in prisons may be entirely inadequate or unfair for those using the system. If grievance forms are unavailable to the inmates, the system has limited time response periods making successful grievances impossible, or if the inmates are otherwise dissuaded from using the grievance system, the system is entirely without a basis and fails to be useful in addressing issues within the prison.[9]

In other areas of the law, there is no requirement for administrative remedies to be exhausted prior to bringing suit for violations of constitutional law.[10] However, after the implementation of PLRA, the requirement for prisoners to exhaust all possible administrative remedies was made clear. The PLRA states that “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions . . . or any other Federal law, by a prisoner . . . until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.”[11] This provision alone requires that unless everything possible has been done within the prison, regardless of the availability of those procedures, a prisoner is not allowed to bring suit.[12] If prisoners do not have private counsel to assist in their cases, most of those incarcerated cannot afford to pay filing fees up front. Instead of allowing for prisoners to have their filing fees waived, prisoners can file in forma pauperius and set up a monthly payment plan that comes out of their prison commissary account.[13] However, if three cases are dismissed by the court at any time during the inmates incarceration, at any point or at any facility, for being “frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,” any following civil action or appeal is not permitted to be brought in forma pauperius, unless “imminent danger of serious physical injury” is present.[14]

Following from the “three strikes provision” of § 1915(g), inmates are severely limited by their ability to afford outside counsel in many circumstances. Not only may attorneys be able to negotiate for administrative hearings instead of a lawsuit, but attorneys are also more skilled in drafting legal instruments than most prisoners.[15] It is, unfortunately, more likely that prisoners will have cases dismissed for failure to state a claim in cases due to their lack of familiarity with civil procedure requirements as compared to attorneys.[16] Furthermore, although the “three strikes provision” only prevents a prisoner from filing in forma pauperius, any later cases must be filed with the entire filing fee presented to the court upon filing.[17] Unless a prisoner’s family has substantial money to assist in paying for the filing fees, it is almost impossible for a prisoner to save enough to be able to afford them on their own.[18]

Not only are prisoners highly disadvantaged because a lawyer is sometimes necessary, prisoners are almost entirely unable to be represented by legal aid attorneys who can assist free-citizens with civil issues. Many legal aid organizations aimed at helping low-income individuals are funded by the federal organization Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Additionally, LSC, established by Congress and regulated by a group of individuals appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, are subject to federal regulations in order to avoid any political issues.[19] Among these regulations, any organization funded by LSC in any state are not permitted to provide any type of services to inmates.[20] More specifically, “recipients [shall] not participate in any civil litigation on behalf of persons incarcerated in Federal, State, or local prisons.”[21] Additionally, LSC funded organizations must “use its best efforts to withdraw promptly from. . . litigation” if a client becomes incarcerated after the case is started.[22] Although not all legal aid organizations are LSC funded, most of them are. This restriction further limits the availability of attorneys to assist prisoners in civil cases.

There are many hurdles that inmates face when trying to file a civil case in federal court to protect their rights under the Constitution and federal law. These hurdles disproportionately affect individuals coming from a low-income background, regardless of the merit of their claim. If the grievance systems in prisons are made to where they are impossible to satisfy and PLRA does not allow an inmate to file in forma pauperius, they are at risk for having their voices silenced while behind bars. To protect one of the rights still awarded to the incarcerated, and ensure more rights are not violated, legal services must be provided to those prisoners who cannot afford private counsel. While some organizations providing individual representation to inmates exist, they are few and far between. In 1977, it was estimated that only 500 full-time lawyers would be needed to serve the needs of the entire national prison population.[23] Although the prison population has exponentially increased in the past 40 years, the need for attorneys helping prisoners is higher than ever. Current non-profit organizations should expand to help this population, and prisoner rights based non-profits are must be formed to address this growing need.

[1] Pub. L. No. 104 – 134, 110 Stat. 1321.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] 45 C.F.R. § 1637 (1997).

[5] JLM,

[6] See Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 419 (1974).

[7] See Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 825 (1977).

[8] Id.

[9] Josh Kurtzman, Overcoming the Exhaustion Requirement of the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act, Am. Bar Ass’n Sec. of Litig. Young Advoc., Jan. 7, 2016,

[10] See Clark D. Elwood, Elimination of the Exhaustion Requirement in Section 1983 Cases: Patsy v. Board of Regents {102 S. Ct. 2257}, 25 J. Urb.& Comtemp. L. 313, 314-15 (1983).

[11] 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) (1996).

[12] See Kurtzman, supra note 9. Although it may be possible to bring these suits by challenging the availability of the grievance procedures, that may not be within an inmates ability without having counsel assist.

[13] See 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (1996); ACLU, Know Your Rights: The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA),

[14] 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) (1996).

[15] See Bounds, 430 U.S. at 825.

[16] See John Midgley, Pro Se Tips and Tactics – Motions to Dismiss, Prison Legal News, Dec. 1998, at 12.

[17] 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

[18] See, e.g., Daniel Wagner, Meet the Prison Bankers Who Profit From the Inmates, Time (Sept. 30, 2014),

[19] Legal Services Corporation, Who We Are,

[20] 45 C.F.R. § 1637 (1997).

[21] Id. at § 1637.1.

[22] Id. at § 1637.4.

[23] Bounds, 430 U.S. at 832.

Parochialism: An Alternative Approach to Environmentalism in Times of Alternative Facts by Gonzalo E. Rodriguez

Parochialism: An Alternative Approach to Environmentalism in Times of Alternative Facts

by Gonzalo E. Rodriguez

Rivers “so saturated with sewage and industrial waste” that they regularly burst into flames.[1] Cities covered by clouds of smoke and fumes so dense that visibility is reduced to three blocks.[2] Buried pools of carcinogenic toxic waste resurfacing into homes and school yards, while women report abnormally high rates of miscarriage and children return home from play with burns on their faces and hands.[3] These were the type of events that led Congress to adopt the first-generation of command-and-control environmental statutes in the 1970s.[4] The successes of these statutes are undeniable. Since the enactment of the 1970 amendments to the Clean Air Act, aggregate emissions of criteria pollutants have decreased an average of 70 percent across the nation, while the gross domestic product increased by 246 percent.[5] The number of water bodies meeting quality standards has nearly doubled since the Clean Water Act amendments of 1972,[6] and 18-million acres of contaminated lands have been restored since the enactment of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in 1976.[7]

Despite the successes of national environmental policies, our fixation on the role of the federal government as the “standard-setter and steward of a healthy environment”[8] could undo nearly half a century of work. A sudden change in the nation’s political climate holds the future of national environmental policy by a thin thread. A wave of right-wing populism propelled Donald Trump–he believes, in contrast to at least 97 percent of publishing scientists, that climate change is a “hoax” invented by China[9]–to the Presidency of the United States, where he has begun to fulfill his campaign promises to gut environmental protections.[10] President Trump’s nominated Scott Pruitt, former Attorney General of Ohio whose tenure was defined by his cooperation with industry to undermine federal environmental regulations, to head the EPA;[11] Rex Tillerson, president and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, for Secretary of State;[12] and Rick Perry, former Texas governor who previously proposed to eliminate the same department he is now nominated to head.[13] Moments after the presidential inauguration, all mentions of climate change were purged from the White House website, with exception of Trump’s promise to do away with the Obama administration’s climate change policies.[14] By his fifth day in office, President Trump issued executive orders reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines,[15] freezing all EPA grants,[16] and ordering a media blackout at the EPA.[17] That same day, the Trump administration announced that any scientific findings from EPA researchers would be required to undergo a “case by case basis” review before their release, a move that would directly contradict the agency’s scientific integrity policy.[18]

The future of environmental protections need not, and in fact cannot, rest on the national political rhetoric du jour. Constitutional, political, and jurisdictional barriers also limit the abilities of federal agencies to prevent the further deterioration of the environment.[19] For example, almost half of the remaining water quality concerns in the United States are caused by nonpoint source pollution.[20] Yet, federal regulation has not succeeded in addressing this problem, as nonpoint source pollution is invariably tied to land use,[21] a matter reserved to the states and outside of the control of federal regulators.[22]

Not in my backyard!

Few things make an environmental activist break into cold chills faster than hearing this phrase. NIMBY, as it is often styled, is a pejorative term seen as a syndrome of our times; a product of racism and privilege.[23] The perpetrators of NIMBY have typically been affluent white communities that use their economic and political influence to drive proposed unwanted uses of land out of their neighborhoods.[24] The victims have often been poor communities of color that, due to their lack of economic or political influence (or perhaps knowledge of the proposed action) become unknowing or unwilling hosts to hazardous facilities.[25] Naturally, environmental organizations seek to avoid the NIMBY label; even organizations whose work fits neatly within the boundaries of parochialism, their goals might be stated in global terms to avoid the NIMBY stigma.[26]

Historically, the work of citizen activist groups was a capital-intensive matter, requiring both extensive human and financial capital.[27] However, the widespread availability of internet and the advent of social media has considerably eroded the foundation of this zero-sum situation. If a company decides that a given neighborhood is the perfect location for its new production facility, its air permit application is likely electronically accessible.[28] More importantly, social medial has allowed grassroots activists to organize successful campaigns with minimal resources, attracting supporters that would otherwise not be directly harmed by a given development project. One of the best examples is the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline; by using the hashtag #NoDAPL, Standing Rock water protectors secured the support, and the ire, of climate organizers around the world.[29] The NoDAPL movement is one of the many successful environmental grassroots efforts that, while expounding globalized ideals, was aimed to address a specific local problem.[30] The increased access to information and power to virally attract support to local causes calls for a reappraisal of the value of local environmental activism.

Going Local

The environmental justice movement is no stranger to grassroots action. Three Los Angeles neighborhoods–Boyle Heights, Pacoima, and Wilmington–share a few things in common: their residents are almost entirely Latino and exceedingly poor, they have strikingly high population densities, and they rank among the most environmentally burdened communities in California.[31] A critic of environmental parochialism would label this as the result of NIMBYism; and there could certainly be some truth to that. However, local activism is precisely what is giving Angelenos hope for a better tomorrow. In April 2016, after years of tireless efforts from community organizers, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously adopted the Clean Up Green Up (CUGU) ordinance.[32] Conceived and propelled by four community working groups, CUGU is a “ground-breaking environmental justice strategy that will reduce and prevent pollution throughout the community.”[33] CUGU exemplifies the use of local governmental power to protect communities; it is a land use ordinance that creates an overlay district over Boyle Heights, Pacoima, and Wilmington.[34] Development proposals within the overlay district will be subject to stricter requirements intended to reduce their environmental impact on the community.[35]

The criticism against local action has two main flaws. As previously discussed, national command-and-control policies have been unsuccessful in addressing many localized environmental problems.[36] But also, local initiatives have the power to, and often do, spark wider change.[37] In 2007, San Francisco became the first city to ban single-use plastic bags.[38] Though the plastic bag industry did its best to bury this initiative, over 130 California cities adopted bag bans by 2014.[39] Two years later, California voters approved the first statewide single-use plastic bag ban in the nation.[40] Though the plastic bag industry naturally objected the initiative, the business community was in favor of the bag ban.[41] One explanation seems to favor reliance on local initiatives instead of immediately seeking change at a state or federal level. As more cities adopt measures such as the bag ban, it creates “patchworks of conflicting policies and laws in California’s 58 counties and 400-plus cities,” which pressure corporate executives to “accept statewide action in the name of uniformity.”[42]

It Takes (Many) a Village

We cannot rely entirely on local governments to devise and implement policies to prevent nationwide environmental degradation. Federal protections are necessary not only to regulate conduct in areas outside state jurisdiction, but also to maintain a uniform regulatory system. However, the need to secure clean air and water requires us to revise the traditional top-down approach toward environmental advocacy. As of the first week of February, Congress has already repealed the stream protection rule,[43] and will shortly move to roll back federal methane flaring rules.[44] U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida, went as far as to draft a bill to eliminate the EPA.[45] Until Washington is ready to protect our environment, our lives, and the lives of those to come, states and local governments will need to fill the gap.

[1] Jennifer Latson, The Burning River that Sparked a Revolution, Time (Jun. 22, 2015), http://www.

[2] The Southland’s War on Smog: Fifty Years of Progress Toward Clean Air, SCAQMD

[3] Eckardt C. Beck, The Love Canal Tragedy,

[4] See generally 42. U.S.C. § 7401 (1970) (Clean Air Act); 33 U.S.C. § 1251 (1972) (Clean Water Act); 42 U.S.C. § 6901 (1976) (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act).

[5] Progress Cleaning the Air and Improving People’s Health, US EPA,

[6] James Salzman, Why Rivers No Longer Burn, Slate (Dec. 10, 2012, 5:20 AM), Though burning rivers are no longer a common sight, the EPA estimates that approximately “half of our rivers and streams, one-third of lakes and ponds, and two-thirds of bays and estuaries are ‘impaired waters,’ in many cases not clean enough for fishing and swimming. Id.

[7] RCRA’s Critical Mission & the Path Forward, U.S. EPA 5 (Jun. 3014),

[8] John R. Nolon, In Praise of Parochialism: The Advent of Local Environmental Law, 23 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 705, 705 (2006).

[9] Caroine Kenny, Trump: ‘Nobody Really Knows’ if Climate Change is Real, CNN (Dec. 12, 2016, 1:51 PM), Since then-presidential candidate Trump called climate change a “hoax,” he has softened his stance, instead stating that he is “somebody that gets it, and nobody really knows [if climate change is real].” Id.

[10] For a list of some of these campaign promises, see Jenna Johnson, ‘I Will Give you Everything.’ Here are 282 of Donald Trump’s Campaign Promises, Wash. Post (Nov. 28, 2016),

[11] Eric Lipton et. al., Scott Pruitt, Trump’s E.P.A. Pick, Backed Industry Donors Over Regulators, N.Y. Times (Jan. 14, 2017),

[12] Donald Trump’s Cabinet is Taking Shape. Here’s the Latest List, N.Y. Times (Jan. 25, 2017),

[13] Id.

[14] Coral Davenport, With Trump in Charge, Climate Change References Purged From Website, N.Y. Times (Jan. 20, 2017),

[15] Steven Mufson et. al., Trump Seeks to Revive Dakota Access, Keystone XL Oil Pipelines, Wash. Post (Jan. 24, 2017),

[16] Brady Dennis et. al., Trump Administration Tells EPA to Freeze All Grants, Contracts, Wash. Post (Jan. 24, 2017), EPA grants benefit not only local efforts to address issues such as environmental injustice, but are also the life source for many scientists, researchers, and state and local officials. Id.

[17] Trump Administration Orders Media Blackout at EPA, L.A. Times (Jan. 24, 2017, 12:40 PM),

[18] Nathan Rott, EPA Scientists’ Work May Face ‘Case By Case’ Review by Trump Team, Official Says, NPR (Jan. 25, 2017, 9:43 AM),

[19] Nolon, supra note 8 at 708.

[20] Id. at 712.

[21] See James C. Buresh, State and Federal Land Use Regulation: An Application to Ground Water and Nonpoint Source Polution Control, 95 Yale L.J. 1433, 1436-38 (1986).

[22] Land use regulation is the quintessential expression of the police power reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment. See Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 32-33 (1954). Federal attempts to intervene in local development decisions have been quickly repelled, as seen in Clean Air Act amendments that expressly prohibited federal regulators from imposing direct land use controls. Nolon, supra note 8 at 707.

[23] Michael B. Gerrar, The Victims of NIMBY, 21 Fordham Urban L. J. 3 at 495 (1993).

[24] See id.

[25] See id.

[26] See infra note 30.

[27] See generally Laurie A. Kutner, Environmental Activism and the Internet, 1 Electronic Green J. 1, 2 (2000), (discussing grassroots organizations’ historically limited access to mass-media, requiring these organizations to rely on telephones, mass mailings, and rallies to communicate information).

[28] See, e.g., Public Notices, ADEM,

[29] Nick Engelfried, How #NoDAPL United a Movement for Indigenous Rights, The Canadian Progressive (Sept. 18, 2016),

[30] Social movement circles would not likely label the NoDAPL movement as NIMBY; the water protectors were not chanting “not here,” but rather “not anywhere.” Yet, this is a blurred line. Grassroots activists interested in addressing a specific local ill–“we don’t want that factory here!”–often adopt a tactical expansion approach–“we don’t want any factories, anywhere!–simply to avoid the NIMBY brand. See Nikolay L. Mihaylov et al., Local Environmental Grassroots Activism: Contributions from Environmental Psychology, Sociology, and Politics, 5 Behav. Sci. 122, 145 (2015).

[31] See CalEnviroScreen 3.0 Draft Indicator and Results Map, CA Office of Envt’l Health Hazard Assessment, (last visited Dec 1, 2016).

[32] Tony Barboza, L.A. City Council Adopts Rules to Ease Health Hazards in Polluted Neighborhoods, L.A. Times (Apr. 13, 2016, 5:59 PM),

[33] Clean Up Green Up, Communities for a Better Env’t.,

[34] For a copy of the draft ordinance, see Draft CUGU Ordinance, L.A. City Planning,

[35] See id.

[36] See Salzman, supra note 7.

[37] See Dan Walters, Opinion: California Often Follows Social Activism at Local Level, Sacramento Bee (Jan 4, 2015, 4:01 PM),

[38] Mitch Silverstein, The Battle Against Plastic Bags in California; A Brief History, San Diego Free Press (Sept. 2, 2016),

[39] Id.

[40] The statewide ban had been passed into law in 2014; however, industry groups lobbied to subject the measure to a referendum. Samantha Masunaga et al., Where are All Those Plastic Bags? California Voters Decided to Get Rid of Them, L.A. Times (Nov. 12, 2016, 6:00 AM),

[41] Id.

[42] Walters, supra note 36.

[43] Ken Silverstein, Will Undoing the Stream Protection Rule Really Help Coal?, Forbes (Feb. 3, 2017, 07:30 AM),

[44] Bruce Finley, Congress Ready to Roll Back Federal Methane Flaring Rule as Soon as Friday, Denver Post (Feb. 2, 2017, 06:04 AM),

[45] Jessica B. Young, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz Files Bill to ‘Permanently Abolish’ the EPA, Orlando Weekly (Feb. 1, 2017, 01:12 AM),

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