Environmental Law of Natural Resources|   [Archived Catalog]
2017-2018 School of Law Bulletin

LAWS 684 - Environmental Law of Natural Resources|

Credits: 3

Natural resources laws are meant to ensure, among other things, that wildlife and fisheries are managed sustainably; that fresh water is conserved and allocated fairly; that endangered species are recovered to healthy populations; and that public and private lands provide a wide range of goods and services. Meeting these important objectives means resolving conflicts among various user groups and between current and future generations of users. There are a number of reasons why resolving these conflicts is both challenging and politically charged. Incomplete science often prevents government agencies from accurately assessing the current status of natural resources and predicting how potential future actions will affect them. Psychological traits such as optimism and loss aversion often prevent resource users from even acknowledging that there is a problem in the first place. New laws must often overcome long-standing cultural beliefs and traditions that evolved in the context of fewer resource demands. Finally, natural resource issues are characterized by the inherent political economy problems that arise when difficult-to-represent interests like the environment and future generations are involved. In this course we will study the ways that federal laws, including the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Forest Management Act, attempt to conserve and allocate natural resources. As part of our study, we will also examine theories of natural resources problems, including the tragedy of the commons, and solutions, including regulation and privatization.

Prerequisites: None

Note: Students who have taken Forest and Natural Resources Law may not enroll in this course.

Basis of Grade: Final examination, short writing assignments and class participation

Form of Grade: Letter Grade