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Fall 2024 Course

Environmental Law

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: One Day Take-Home

This introductory course will focus on the variety of legal mechanisms we use to address environmental harms such as air and water pollution, global climate change, and habitat destruction. We will focus on the key federal environmental statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, and the leading cases in which these statutes have been interpreted by courts. The statutes will be studied in some detail so that students emerge with a basic understanding of their major regulatory provisions. Thematically, the statutes serve as illustrations of different regulatory approaches to environmental problems, from command and control standards to market-based instruments. In addition, we will discuss important matters of policy, including the Obama administrations efforts to address climate change through the use of Executive Power, and the Trump administration’s efforts to rescind these policies. The course will also cover developments in constitutional law which significantly affect federal environmental law; and will cover the role of cost-benefit analysis in environmental regulation. Finally, we will discuss the political economy of environmental regulation, specifically the role played by interest groups (both industry and environmental organizations) in producing, implementing and enforcing environmental law.

Students need not be self-identified “environmentalists” to be interested in this course. Nearly every area of law is now affected by environmental regulation, including private law fields such as real estate, bankruptcy and financial regulation. The legal issues presented by environmental problems offer ample opportunities for students to develop important and transferable legal skills, including statutory interpretation, constitutional analysis and application of administrative law doctrines.

Laptops and other electronic devices will not be permitted in class. Regular attendance and participation in class discussion is expected.

Cross-Registration: No undergraduates please, and cross-reg students allowed only with permission of instructor.

Note: This course is not available for auditing.