This course examines laws and legal techniques to protect the environment. The focus is on U.S. federal law, but there is also some discussion of international law and of U.S. state and municipal law. The primary focus is on three major federal anti-pollution statutes, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; one liability-conferring statute, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liabiity Act (Superfund); one information disclosure statute, the National Environmental Policy Act; and one natural resources statute, the Endangered Species Act. In addition, we will consider the common law as a source of environmental protection, information-based regulatory strategies, and economic instruments such as emission taxes and marketable permits.
This is a survey course. Because environmental law is predominantly statutory, students will have to come to grips with some statutory minutia. The overall goal, however, is not to learn the endless details of these complex statutes but to introduce the basic problems and approaches that characterize contemporary environmental regulation. There will also be considerable discussion of how these statutes operate in actual practice.