Sen. Leahy Wins $3.9 M for VLS, ISC to Continue Environmental Work in China
April 27, 2012
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has rescued $3.9 million to continue the work of Vermont Law School's U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law and another pioneering Vermont organization that are helping to nurture the emergence of environmental advocacy in China.
Leahy, who chairs the Senate's committee on the budget for the State Department, foreign aid and other U.S. foreign operations, has secured about $15 million each year for several years to fund a competitive grant program for rule-of-law training in China, where the judiciary is often manipulated by corrupt officials and rapid economic growth has led to unprecedented environmental and public health problems. Under the Leahy-funded initiative, U.S. organizations devise and implement programs to partner with civic reform groups in China in fostering environmental advocacy and enforcement, in challenging official corruption and in protecting worker health and safety.
Vermont Law School and the Vermont-based Institute for Sustainable Communities have been among the program's participants, forming the U.S.-China Partnership For Environmental Law, based at the VLS campus in South Royalton. Since 2006 their program has trained thousands of Chinese lawyers, citizen advocates and educators, giving them the skills and academic infrastructure needed to solve mounting environmental and energy challenges through the rule of law. The program helps empower ordinary citizens in China by building legal training capacity for lawyers and civic organizations there in challenging government corruption, local pollution and threats to worker health and safety. Leahy notes that another benefit is that emergence of environmental and safety standards within China helps in leveling the economic playing field with American firms that operate within U.S. environmental and safety standards.