There were many fine environmental law survey texts available when we began considering authoring another, so we decided the only point in doing so would be to provide something different. We concluded that the one facet of environmental law missing from all other survey texts is significant coverage of the practice of environmental law. Thus, without sacrificing coverage of the conventional topics of environmental law statutes and structure, we built a significant portion of our text around a group of five practice settings.
We thus have tried in this book to make environmental law come alive, to demonstrate for the student what environmental law is about and then place that subject matter in practice settings to show the range of what environmental lawyers actually experience. In teaching the environmental survey course, all of us felt that our students could analyze well the policy aspects of environmental law, but were more guarded about their understanding of what practicing environmental law really feels like. We believe this focus of the book—making practice settings and practice problems a prominent feature for instructors and students—significantly distinguishes it from the many other commendable casebooks available on the topic of environmental law. Indeed, we would not have bothered to prepare a new addition to the array of environmental law casebooks if we did not believe ours would offer an alternative that is different in a meaningful and useful way.
The book begins with an introductory chapter, designed to provide the student’s first exposure to environmental law though the experience of environmental lawyers. Using a series of case studies, this introduction emphasizes the importance of thinking about environmental law in three dimensions: (1) the basic approaches employed by environmental law; (2) the diversity of practice settings in which environmental law arises as a driving factor; and (3) the breadth of policy issues facing the future of environmental law.
The text then breaks down into two parts:
Part I: Approaches to Environmental Law – This part of the text supplies the conventional coverage of major environmental law statutes and doctrines. The scope of coverage includes the major pollution control and remediation statutes, but there is more coverage of the Endangered Species Act and private and public lands management than is usually found in survey texts. We find this makes the text more versatile and allows one to provide the students a taste of natural resources law. Also, we lead with the Endangered Species Act as it provides a good platform for delving into policy and ethics questions, as well as being less of an opening shock than, say, the Clean Air Act.
Part II: The Practice of Environmental Law – We consider this part of the text the innovative feature of the book and what gives it certain pedagogical distinction. Unlike all other environmental law texts, this part provides the student a feel for practice settings. In particular, the usual “stiff” structural topics of administrative law, the common law, and enforcement are covered here with a practice focus. Other topics such as compliance counseling, business transactions, and obtaining (or fighting) permits, are simply not covered at all in most survey texts, yet this is what students often yearn to be exposed to early in their forays into environmental law.