Environmental law may be the one institution standing between us and planetary exhaustion. It is also an institution that needs to be reconciled with human liberty and economic aspirations. This course considers these issues and provides a tour though existing legal regimes governing pollution, water law, endangered species, toxic substances, environmental impact analyses, and environmental risk.
- Week 1 - Common-Law Approaches to Environmental Problems
As the course does not presume any previous knowledge of the law or legal experience, it begins by teaching students how to “read” cases, to learn from judicial opinions in real-life disputes how judges articulate and apply legal principles. We focus on the la...
- Week 2 - Property and the Environment
It’s impossible to understand environmental law without also understanding the important role that private property plays in people’s lives and the way in which property law recognizes these values. After using two cases involving property rights to water to i...
- Week 3 - Two Famous Statutory Programs: Environmental Impact Analysis and Endangered-Species Protection
This week we start with perhaps the most influential American environmental statute ever enacted, the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), and its requirement for environmental impact analysis of certain actions that might significantly affect the envir...
- Week 4 - Risk Analysis and Toxic Substances: Pesticides, Trade Disputes over Synthetic Hormones, and the Cleanup of Contaminated Sites
This week we shift from land-use-related issues to the central role that “risk” plays in the regulation of toxic substances, pollution-control, and environmental law generally. We begin with an analysis of a regulatory decision involving 2,4,5-T, the active in...
- Week 5 - Environmental Justice, Water Pollution, Claims to a Human Right to Drinking Water, Fracking, and Insights from an Economic Model of Regulatory Cost-Effectiveness
This week, we pivot mostly into issues involving fresh water and water pollution, but not before continuing our discussion of risk distribution by exploring further the concept of environmental justice. We start with legal approaches to transboundary shipments...
- Week 6 - Pollution, Climate Change and Course Conclusion
This week, we continue discussing aspects of water-quality regulation, including especially elements other than the technology-based systems in the American Clean Water Act. We then shift to air-pollution control, not only introducing the environmental-quality...
- Week 6 - (Optional) Research Exercise
This module is optional.
Aubrey L. Brooks Professor of Law