Environmental law

Environmental law

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Environmental law'
Start a new discussion about 'Environmental law'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia


Environmental law is a complex and interlocking body of treaties, conventions, statutes, regulations, and common law that operates to regulate the interaction of humanity and the natural environment
Natural environment
The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species....

, toward the purpose of reducing the impacts of human activity. The topic may be divided into two major subjects: (1) pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

 control and remediation,(2) resource conservation and management. Laws dealing with pollution are often media-limited - i.e., pertain only to a single environmental medium, such as air, water (whether surface water, groundwater or oceans), soil, etc. - and control both emissions of pollutants into the medium, as well as liability for exceeding permitted emissions and responsibility for cleanup. Laws regarding resource conservation and management generally focus on a single resource - e.g., natural resources
Natural Resources
Natural Resources is a soul album released by Motown girl group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 1970 on the Gordy label. The album is significant for the Vietnam War ballad "I Should Be Proud" and the slow jam, "Love Guess Who"...

 such as forest
Forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

s, mineral deposits
Ore
An ore is a type of rock that contains minerals with important elements including metals. The ores are extracted through mining; these are then refined to extract the valuable element....

 or animal species, or more intangible resources such as especially scenic areas or sites of high archeological value - and provide guidelines for and limitations on the conservation, disturbance and use of those resources. These areas are not mutually exclusive - for example, laws governing water pollution in lakes and rivers may also conserve the recreational value of such water bodies. Furthermore, many laws that are not exclusively "environmental" nonetheless include significant environmental components and integrate environmental policy decisions. Municipal, state and national laws regarding development, land use
Land use
Land use is the human use of land. Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness into built environment such as fields, pastures, and settlements. It has also been defined as "the arrangements, activities and inputs people undertake in a certain land cover...

 and infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 are examples.

Environmental law draws from and is influenced by principles of environmentalism
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

, including ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

, conservation
Conservation movement
The conservation movement, also known as nature conservation, is a political, environmental and a social movement that seeks to protect natural resources including animal, fungus and plant species as well as their habitat for the future....

, stewardship
Stewardship
Stewardship is an ethic that embodies responsible planning and management of resources. The concept of stewardship has been applied in diverse realms, including with respect to environment, economics, health, property, information, and religion, and is linked to the concept of sustainability...

, responsibility
Social responsibility
Social responsibility is an ethical ideology or theory that an entity, be it an organization or individual, has an obligation to act to benefit society at large. Social responsibility is a duty every individual or organization has to perform so as to maintain a balance between the economy and the...

 and sustainability
Sustainability
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

. Pollution control laws generally are intended (often with varying degrees of emphasis) to protect and preserve both the natural environment and human health. Resource conservation and management laws generally balance (again, often with varying degrees of emphasis) the benefits of preservation and economic exploitation of resources. From an economic perspective environmental laws may be understood as concerned with the prevention of present and future externalities, and preservation of common
Tragedy of the commons
The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this...

 resources from individual exhaustion. The limitations and expenses that such laws may impose on commerce, and the often unquantifiable (non-monetized) benefit of environmental protection, have generated and continue to generate significant controversy.

Given the broad scope of environmental law, no fully definitive list of environmental laws is possible. The following discussion and resources give an indication of the breadth of law that falls within the "environmental" metric.

International


Pollution does not respect political boundaries, making international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 an important aspect of environmental law. Numerous legally binding international agreements now encompass a wide variety of issue-areas, from terrestrial, marine and atmospheric pollution through to wildlife and biodiversity protection.

While the bodies that proposed, argued, agreed upon and ultimately adopted existing international agreements vary according to each agreement, certain conferences - including 1972's United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was an international conference convened under United Nations auspices held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5–16, 1972...

, 1983's World Commission on Environment and Development
Brundtland Commission
The Brundtland Commission, formally the World Commission on Environment and Development , known by the name of its Chair Gro Harlem Brundtland, was convened by the United Nations in 1983...

, 1992's United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and 2002's World Summit on Sustainable Development
Earth Summit 2002
The World Summit on Sustainable Development, WSSD or Earth Summit 2002 took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September 2002. It was convened to discuss sustainable development by the United Nations. WSSD gathered a number of leaders from business and non-governmental...

 have been particularly important.

Organizing principles


International environmental law's development has included the statement and adoption of a number of important guiding principles. As with all international law, international environmental law brings up questions of sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

, legal reciprocity ("comity
Comity
In law, comity specifically refers to legal reciprocity—the principle that one jurisdiction will extend certain courtesies to other nations , particularly by recognizing the validity and effect of their executive, legislative, and judicial acts...

") and even perhaps the Golden Rule. Other guiding principles include the polluter pays principle
Polluter pays principle
In environmental law, the polluter pays principle is enacted to make the party responsible for producing pollution responsible for paying for the damage done to the natural environment. It is regarded as a regional custom because of the strong support it has received in most Organisation for...

, the precautionary principle
Precautionary principle
The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those...

, the principle of sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

, environmental procedural rights
Procedural law
Procedural law or adjective law comprises the rules by which a court hears and determines what happens in civil lawsuit, criminal or administrative proceedings. The rules are designed to ensure a fair and consistent application of due process or fundamental justice to all cases that come before...

, common but differentiated responsibilities, intragenerational and intergenerational equity
Intergenerational equity
Intergenerational equity in economic, psychological, and sociological contexts, is the concept or idea of fairness or justice in relationships between children, youth, adults and seniors, particularly in terms of treatment and interactions. It has been studied in environmental and sociological...

, "common concern of humankind
Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity , known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is an international legally binding treaty...

", and common heritage
Common heritage of mankind
Common heritage of mankind is a principle of international law which holds that defined territorial areas and elements of humanity's common heritage should be held in trust for future generations and be protected from exploitation by individual...

.

Treaties, protocols, conventions, etc.


International environmental agreements are generally multilateral
Multilateral treaty
A multilateral treaty is a treaty to which three or more sovereign states are parties. Each party owes the same obligations to all other parties, except to the extent that they have stated reservations...

 (or sometimes bilateral
Bilateral treaty
A bilateral treaty is a treaty strictly between two state parties. These two parties can be two states, or two international organizations, or one state and one international organization.It is similar to a contract, so it is called contractual treaty....

) treaties
Treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

 (a.k.a. convention, agreement, protocol, etc.). The majority of such conventions deal directly with specific environmental issues. There are also some general treaties with one or two clauses referring to environmental issues but these are rarer. There are about 1000 environmental law treaties in existence today; no other area of law has generated such a large body of conventions on a specific topic.

Protocols are subsidiary agreements built from a primary treaty. They exist in many areas of international law but are especially useful in the environmental field, where they may be used to regularly incorporate recent scientific knowledge. They also permit countries to reach agreement on a framework that would be contentious if every detail were to be agreed upon in advance. The most widely known protocol in international environmental law is the Kyoto Protocol
Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , aimed at fighting global warming...

, which followed from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development , informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to 14, 1992...

.

Customary international law


Customary international law
Customary international law
Customary international law are those aspects of international law that derive from custom. Along with general principles of law and treaties, custom is considered by the International Court of Justice, jurists, the United Nations, and its member states to be among the primary sources of...

 is an important source of international environmental law. These are the norms and rules that countries follow as a matter of custom and they are so prevalent that they bind all states in the world. When a principle becomes customary law is not clear cut and many arguments are put forward by states not wishing to be bound. Examples of customary international law relevant to the environment include the duty to warn other states promptly about icons of an environmental nature and environmental damages to which another state or states may be exposed, and Principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration ('good neighbourliness' or sic utere).

Judicial decisions


International environmental law also includes the opinions of international courts and tribunals. While there are few and they have limited authority, the decisions carry much weight with legal commentators and are quite influential on the development of international environmental law. One of the biggest challenges in international decisions is to determine an adequate compensation for environmental damages.

The courts include: the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 (ICJ); the international Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS); the European Court of Justice
European Court of Justice
The Court can sit in plenary session, as a Grand Chamber of 13 judges, or in chambers of three or five judges. Plenary sitting are now very rare, and the court mostly sits in chambers of three or five judges...

; European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...

 and other regional treaty tribunals. Arguably the World Trade Organisation's Dispute Settlement Board (DSB) is getting a say on environmental law also.

Important cases have included:
  • Trail smelter arbitration, 33 AJIL (1939)
  • Nuclear weapons testing cases, such as between New Zealand and France before the International Court of Justice
    International Court of Justice
    The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

    ;
  • Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Dam Case, ICJ Rep (1997)

United States


Laws from every stratum of the laws of the United States pertain to environmental issues. The United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 has passed a number of landmark environmental regulatory regimes, but many other federal laws are equally important, if less comprehensive. Concurrently, the legislatures of the fifty states have passed innumerable comparable sets of laws. These state and federal systems are foliated with layer upon layer of administrative regulation. Meanwhile, the U.S. judicial system reviews
Judicial review
Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority...

 not only the legislative enactments, but also the administrative decisions of the many agencies dealing with environmental issues. Where the statutes and regulations end, the common law begins.

Federal statutes


Federal regulation


Consistent with the federal statutes that they administer, U.S. federal agencies promulgate regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations
Code of Federal Regulations
The Code of Federal Regulations is the codification of the general and permanent rules and regulations published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government of the United States.The CFR is published by the Office of the Federal Register, an agency...

 that fill out the broad programs enacted by Congress. Primary among these is Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations
Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations
Title 40 is a part of the United States Code of Federal Regulations. Title 40 arranges mainly environmental regulations that were promulgated by the US Environmental Protection Agency , based on the provisions of United States laws...

, containing the regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency. Other import CFR sections include Title 10 (energy), Title 18 (Conservation of Power and Water Resources), Title 21 (Food and Drugs), Title 33 (Navigable Waters), Title 36 (Parks, Forests and Public Property), Title 43 (Public Lands: Interior) and Title 50 (Wildlife and Fisheries).

Judicial decisions


The federal and state judiciaries have played an important role in the development of environmental law in the United States, in many cases resolving significant controversy regarding the application of federal environmental laws in favor of environmental interests. The decisions of the Supreme Court in cases such as Calvert Cliffs Coordinating Committee v. U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (broadly reading the procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act
National Environmental Policy Act
The National Environmental Policy Act is a United States environmental law that established a U.S. national policy promoting the enhancement of the environment and also established the President's Council on Environmental Quality ....

), Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill
Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill
Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill et al., or TVA v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153 , was a United States Supreme Court case. It is a commonly cited example of the canon of construction expressio unius est exclusio alterius .- Background :The Tennessee Valley Authority started the building of the Tellico Dam...

 (broadly reading the Endangered Species Act
Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is one of the dozens of United States environmental laws passed in the 1970s. Signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 28, 1973, it was designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a "consequence of economic growth and...

), and, much more recently, Massachusetts v. EPA (requiring EPA to reconsider regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act
Regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act
The United States Environmental Protection Agency began regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act from mobile and stationary sources of air pollution for the first time on January 2, 2011...

) have had policy impacts far beyond the facts of the particular case.

Common law


The common law of tort
Tort
A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a wrong that involves a breach of a civil duty owed to someone else. It is differentiated from a crime, which involves a breach of a duty owed to society in general...

 is an important tool for the resolution of environmental disputes that fall beyond the confines of regulated activity. Prior to the modern proliferation of environmental regulation, the doctrines of nuisance
Nuisance
Nuisance is a common law tort. It means that which causes offence, annoyance, trouble or injury. A nuisance can be either public or private. A public nuisance was defined by English scholar Sir J. F...

 (public or private), trespass
Trespass
Trespass is an area of tort law broadly divided into three groups: trespass to the person, trespass to chattels and trespass to land.Trespass to the person, historically involved six separate trespasses: threats, assault, battery, wounding, mayhem, and maiming...

, negligence
Negligence
Negligence is a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances. The area of tort law known as negligence involves harm caused by carelessness, not intentional harm.According to Jay M...

, and strict liability
Strict liability
In law, strict liability is a standard for liability which may exist in either a criminal or civil context. A rule specifying strict liability makes a person legally responsible for the damage and loss caused by his or her acts and omissions regardless of culpability...

 apportioned harm and assigned liability for activities that today would be considered pollution and likely governed by regulatory regimes. These doctrines remain relevant, and most recently have been used by plaintiffs seeking to impose liability for the consequences of global climate change.

The common law also continues to play a leading role in American water law
Water law
Water law is the field of law dealing with the ownership, control, and use of water as a resource. It is most closely related to property law, but has also become influenced by environmental law...

, in the doctrines of riparian rights
Riparian water rights
Riparian water rights are system for allocating water among those who possess land about its source. It has its origins in English common law...

 and prior appropriation
Prior appropriation water rights
Prior appropriation water rights, sometimes known as the Colorado Doctrine in reference to the U.S. Supreme Court case Wyoming v. Colorado, is a system of allocating water rights from a water source that is markedly different from riparian water rights...

.

Administration


In the United States, responsibilities for the administration of environmental laws are divided between numerous federal and state agencies with varying, overlapping and sometimes conflicting missions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‎ (EPA) is the most well-known federal agency, with jurisdiction over many of the country's national air, water and waste and hazardous substance programs. Other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 pursue primarily conservation missions, while still others, such as the United States Forest Service
United States Forest Service
The United States Forest Service is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass...

 and the Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior which administers America's public lands, totaling approximately , or one-eighth of the landmass of the country. The BLM also manages of subsurface mineral estate underlying federal, state and private...

, tend to focus more on beneficial use of natural resources.

Federal agencies operate within the limits of federal jurisdiction. For example, EPA's jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act
Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution. Commonly abbreviated as the CWA, the act established the goals of eliminating releases of high amounts of toxic substances into water, eliminating additional water pollution by 1985, and ensuring that...

 is limited to "waters of the United States
Rapanos v. United States
Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 , was a United States Supreme Court case challenging federal jurisdiction to regulate isolated wetlands under the Clean Water Act. It was the first major environmental case heard by the newly appointed Chief Justice, John Roberts and Associate Justice, Samuel...

". Furthermore in many cases federal laws allow for more stringent regulation by states, and of transfer of certain federally mandated responsibilities from federal to state control. U.S. state governments, therefore, administering state law adopted under state police power
Police power
In United States constitutional law, police power is the capacity of the states to regulate behavior and enforce order within their territory for the betterment of the general welfare, morals, health, and safety of their inhabitants...

s or federal law by delegation, uniformly include environmental agencies. The extent to which state environmental laws are based on or depart from federal law varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Thus, while a permit to fill non-federal wetland
Wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

s might require a permit from a single state agency, larger and more complex endeavors - for example, the construction of a coal-fired power plant
Fossil fuel power plant
A fossil-fuel power station is a power station that burns fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas or petroleum to produce electricity. Central station fossil-fuel power plants are designed on a large scale for continuous operation...

 - might require approvals from numerous federal and state agencies.

Enforcement


In the United States, violations of environmental laws are generally civil offenses
Civil law (common law)
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

, resulting in monetary penalties and, perhaps, civil sanctions such as injunction
Injunction
An injunction is an equitable remedy in the form of a court order that requires a party to do or refrain from doing certain acts. A party that fails to comply with an injunction faces criminal or civil penalties and may have to pay damages or accept sanctions...

. Many environmental laws also provide for criminal penalties for egregious violations. Environmental agencies often include separate enforcement offices, with duties including monitoring permitted activities, performing compliance inspections, issuing citations and prosecuting wrongdoing (civilly or criminally, depending on the violation). EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance is the law enforcement arm of the Environmental Protection Agency. It is made up of special agents and other employees.-Mission:...

 is one such agency. Others, such as the United States Park Police
United States Park Police
The United States Park Police is one of the oldest uniformed federal law enforcement agencies in the United States. It functions as a full service law enforcement agency with responsibilities and jurisdiction in those National Park Service areas primarily located in the Washington, D.C., San...

, carry out more traditional law enforcement activities.

Adjudicatory proceedings for environmental violations are often handled by the agencies themselves under the strictures of administrative law
Administrative law
Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government. Government agency action can include rulemaking, adjudication, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. Administrative law is considered a branch of public law...

. In some cases, appeals are also handled internally (for example, EPA's Environmental Appeals Board). Generally, final agency determinations may subsequently be appealed to the appropriate court.

Other environmental law enforcement agencies include:
  • Força Verde, a branch of the Brazilian Armed Forces which was established decades ago to protect against environmental crimes.
  • Green Police - an environmental task force in New Jersey
    New Jersey
    New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

    .
  • Veteran Environmental Patrol of Israel
    Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

     - started fielding uniformed officers in 2001.

Necessity


The necessity of directly regulating a particular activity due to the activity's environmental consequences is often a subject of debate. These debates may be scientific - for example, scientific uncertainty fuels the ongoing debate
Global warming controversy
Global warming controversy refers to a variety of disputes, significantly more pronounced in the popular media than in the scientific literature, regarding the nature, causes, and consequences of global warming...

 over greenhouse gas regulation and is a major factor in the debate over whether to ban pesticides.

Cost


It is very common for regulated industry to argue against environmental regulation on the basis of cost. Indeed, in the U.S. estimates of the environmental regulation's total costs reach 2% of GDP, and any new regulation will arguably contribute in some way to that burden. Difficulties arise, however, in performing cost-benefit analysis
Cost-benefit analysis
Cost–benefit analysis , sometimes called benefit–cost analysis , is a systematic process for calculating and comparing benefits and costs of a project for two purposes: to determine if it is a sound investment , to see how it compares with alternate projects...

. The value of a healthy ecosystem is not easily quantified
Ecosystem valuation
Ecosystem valuation is a widely used tool in determining the impact of human activities on an environmental system, by assigning an economic value to an ecosystem or its ecosystem services.-Value of ecosystem services:...

, nor the value of clean air, species diversity, etc. Furthermore environmental issues may gain an ethical or moral
Environmental ethics
Environmental ethics is the part of environmental philosophy which considers extending the traditional boundaries of ethics from solely including humans to including the non-human world...

 dimension that would discount cost.

Effectiveness


Environmental interests will often criticize environmental regulation as inadequately protective of the environment. Furthermore, strong environmental laws do not guarantee strong enforcement. Nonetheless, the cost benefit analysis for society at large between having laws that protect citizens from toxic or dangerous living and work conditions such as those that existed in the early industrial 1800's or not clearly comes down on the side of regulation.

Education and training


Environmental law courses are offered as elective courses in the second and third years of JD
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

 study at many American law school
Law school
A law school is an institution specializing in legal education.- Law degrees :- Canada :...

s. Curricula vary: an introductory course might focus on the "big five" federal statutes - NEPA, CAA, CWA, CERCLA and RCRA (or FIFRA) - and may be offered in conjunction with a natural resources law course. Smaller seminars may be offered on more focused topics. Some U.S. law schools also offer an LLM or JSD specialization in environmental law. Additionally, several law schools host legal clinics that focus on environmental law, providing students with an opportunity to learn about environmental law in the context of real world disputes involving actual clients. U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is an American news magazine published from Washington, D.C. Along with Time and Newsweek it was for many years a leading news weekly, focusing more than its counterparts on political, economic, health and education stories...

 has consistently ranked Vermont Law School
Vermont Law School
Vermont Law School is a private, American Bar Association accredited law school located in South Royalton, Vermont . The Law School has one of the United States' leading programs in environmental law, and the Law School is currently ranked #1 in Environmental Law by U.S...

, Lewis & Clark Law School
Lewis & Clark Law School
Lewis and Clark Law School is a private American law school located in Portland, Oregon. In the last ten years, L&C's Environmental Law program has been the highest-rated in the United States eight times....

, and Pace University School of Law
Pace University School of Law
Pace University School of Law, known colloquially as "Pace Law School", is the law school of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County...

 as the top three Environmental Law programs in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, with Lewis & Clark and Vermont frequently trading the top spot.

Many law schools host student-published law journals
Law review
A law review is a scholarly journal focusing on legal issues, normally published by an organization of students at a law school or through a bar association...

. The environmental law reviews at Harvard
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

, Stanford
Stanford Law School
Stanford Law School is a graduate school at Stanford University located in the area known as the Silicon Valley, near Palo Alto, California in the United States. The Law School was established in 1893 when former President Benjamin Harrison joined the faculty as the first professor of law...

, Columbia
Columbia Law School
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, is one of the oldest and most prestigious law schools in the United States. A member of the Ivy League, Columbia Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Columbia University in New York City. It offers the J.D., LL.M., and J.S.D. degrees in...

, NYU and Lewis & Clark Law School
Lewis & Clark Law School
Lewis and Clark Law School is a private American law school located in Portland, Oregon. In the last ten years, L&C's Environmental Law program has been the highest-rated in the United States eight times....

 are regularly the most-cited such publications.

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law is a network of some 60 law schools worldwide that specialise in the research and teaching of environmental law.

International environmental lawyers often receive specialized training in the form of an LL.M. degree after having a first law degree often in another country from where they got their first law degree.

ECOLEX is a worldwide Gateway to Environmental Law (a web-based information service made by UNEP, FAO and UICN).

International


U.S.


Canada