F&ES 859b/Law 21182 / 2017-2018

Natural Resources Law

Credits: 3

Spring 2018: M,W, 10:35-12:00, SLB 108


Managing natural resources is complicated and contentious. Today’s economy relies on oil and gas, but tapping those resources can scar landscapes and spoil tourism. Dredging a coastal marsh might free barge traffic, but might also sink bird habitat and erode natural flood barriers. Everyone loves a sunlit forest, but we need wood too. Trade offs like these are everywhere. This course will examine the ways that law allocates and manages many of our most important natural resources, including public lands, biodiversity, wetlands, and offshore oil. Our reading will take us to a variety of landscapes, from the Mojave Desert to the Rocky Mountains to Cajun swamps to Walden Pond. We will examine constitutional dilemmas and the pivotal role played by administrative law. While the focus is on federal law (the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management Act, and the Endangered Species Act, and more), the course will also consider some aspects of state law, including doctrines of public trust. Throughout, we will keep an eye on historical, ethical, and economic considerations too—and, of course, climate change. Classes will include a few lectures, lots of discussion, and a few structured simulations. Self-scheduled examination