About the Environmental Law Institute

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is an internationally recognized independent research and education organization.  Since 1969 it has served as a non-partisan source of information about environmental law, policy, and management.  ELI fosters innovative, just, and practical law and policy solutions to enable leaders across borders and sectors to make environmental, economic, and social progress.  The Institute does this by building the capacity of decision-makers and leaders, researching and analyzing pressing environmental challenges, bringing together diverse groups of people to build shared understanding, and disseminating information online and in print.  We do not litigate or lobby.

The Ocean Program Team



Xiao Recio-Blanco
Senior Attorney
Director, Ocean Program
(202) 939-3863

Xiao Recio-Blanco is a Senior Attorney and Director of the Ocean Program. He has conducted legal research on the regulation of small-scale fisheries in developing nations, the implementation of Marine Spatial Planning, the negotiation of maritime boundaries agreements, the creation of transboundary Marine Protected Areas, and the regulation of ocean renewable energy.

Before joining ELI, Xiao was an attorney at Banco Santander in Madrid (Spain), and an Associate Professor of International Law at CIDE (Mexico City). He was also a Visiting Attorney at Earthjustice in the District of Columbia. He holds a J.D. from the Complutense University of Madrid, and a S.J.D. from Duke University School of Law.


Jay Austin
Senior Attorney
(202) 558-3103

Jay Austin, Senior Attorney, has been at the Environmental Law Institute since 1992. He has worked extensively on the Institute’s water and ocean projects, including studies of ecosystem-based management, coastal and marine spatial planning, wetland mitigation, nonpoint source pollution, and Western water issues. He graduated with honors from the University of Virginia School of Law, and served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Michael Boudin in US District Court for the District of Columbia.


David Roche
Staff Attorney
(202) 939-3804

David Roche is a Staff Attorney at ELI. He works with the Ocean Program on regional ocean and coastal governance issues, with an emphasis on supporting coastal community health and resilience in the U.S. Arctic and Gulf of Mexico. David holds a JD magna cum laude from Duke University School of Law, an MA in Environmental Science from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and a BA with honors in Environmental Science from Columbia University.

Amy Streitwieser     Amy Reed
     Staff Attorney
     (202) 939-3246

Amy Reed, Staff Attorney, first joined ELI as a law clerk in 2012. She works primarily on domestic law and policy topics, including indoor environments and green buildings, Gulf of Mexico restoration, and the Clean Water Act.  Prior to joining ELI, Amy served as a law clerk for Ventura Coastkeeper in California and spent time in Ecuador working on a campaign to clean up oil pollution in the Amazon basin. Amy graduated magna cum laude from Duke University with a B.A. in Spanish and holds a J.D. from UCLA School of Law.

Sofia Yazykova     Sofia O’Connor
     Staff Attorney
     (202) 939-3824

Sofia is a Staff Attorney at ELI. She has worked on projects related to climate change adaptation, environmental displacement and environmental migration, ocean resource management, marine spatial planning, marine protected areas, and marine litter. Sofia is particularly interested in how legal codes can be changed to incorporate considerations of climate change. She holds a JD from Vermont Law School and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar.  

Jessie Sugarman     Jessie Sugarman
     Research Associate
     (202) 939-3814

Jessie joined ELI as a Research Associate in July 2020. She is currently involved in ELI’s Ocean Program, Innovation Lab, and Indoor Environments & Green Buildings Program. Before joining ELI, Jessie conducted research on investor-owned utilities and the climate change countermovement with Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab. Her other work on research and policy development includes deep decarbonization in New England, as well as environmental best management practices in the agricultural sector. Jessie graduated in May 2020 with a B.A. in Public Policy.

Meet ELI Ocean Program’s Visiting Scholars and Attorneys

Learn more about ELI Ocean Program’s Advisory Committee