This introductory course will focus on the variety of legal mechanisms that regulate the environment, including common law doctrines such as nuisance as well as major U.S. federal statutes such as NEPA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. We will study statutes in some detail but also as examples of different regulatory approaches favoring different strategies and different values choices. We will study some cutting-edge issues in environmental law such as the law and science of climate change, with a focus on domestic efforts to reduce carbon emissions using existing laws. We will also think strategically, from both the industry and environmentalist perspective, about how law may be an instrument of social change. We will explore the field from a number of perspectives - as a site of intense group conflict, as an example of how regulation can both fail and succeed to achieve its goals, as an opportunity for public-private cooperation in governance, and as an example of a technical and scientifically driven area of law. While the course is a survey and will include important topics from several major federal statutes, it is not necessarily comprehensive in its examination of federal environmental law, but will study certain representative topics in detail. The law school’s course on administrative law will be helpful for students who have taken it, but it is not a prerequisite.
Environmental Law and Policy