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Environmental Law
Villanova University School of Law
Aagaard, Todd S.

Environmental Law Aagaard Fall 2016
 
 
Part I – Introduction and Background Principle
 
I.                 Highlights from Jeffrey Gaba’s Hints on Surviving Environmental Law
A.               There is absolutely no alternative to reading the appropriate statutory provisions as you review issues for class.
B.               You need to be familiar with both methods of referring to statutory provisions. Clean Air Act § 307 (session law), 42 U.S.C. § 7607 (Codified statute)
C.                In order to learn environmental law, you have to learn the language.
II.           Pharmaceuticals in the Environment
A.           Is something happening to the environment?
               1.            Occurring – detection limits, multiple pollutants, change over time
               2.            Affecting – Actual cause
B.           Should we respond?
1.            Risk and Precaution
               a.            Precautionary principle/Inverse/Middle ground
                              i.             Burden of uncertainty
2.            Ethical Theories of Environmental Protection
               a.            Anthropocentric (humans) vs. nature
               b.            Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic”
C.           Should the response be legal?
               1.            Alternatives to a legal response
                              a.            Public Information – Cause different action
                              b.            Voluntary action – By public or businesses
                              c.            Use of markets to obtain an advantage from environmental beneficial                                                         behavior
D.           Who should respond?
               1.            Congress
               2.            Agency (EPA)
               3.            Judicial Action
               4.            Levels of Government – State, Federal, Local, International
E.            What legal tools should we use?
1.            Torts – common law (Nuisance)
2.            Property – common law (property rights in natural resources)
3.            Information – disclosure
4.            Prescriptive Regulation – telling you what to do moving forward (most of the    class)
a.            Laws that require specific actions – Must comply exactly
b.            Performance standards – Performance must be met but not told exactly         how to follow
5.            Economic incentives and trading
a.            Tradable permit systems – Given a default that must be met but trading         between parties to meet the default better financially is okay
b.            Fees and taxes – Almost never happens in practice
6.            Planning schemes – Only require the plan
7.            Procedural (Process) and substantive regulations (Outcome)
8.            Technology-based (Feasibility) and environmental quality-based regulations
F.            What should the intensity of the response be?
               1.            Cost-benefit Analysis
                              a.            Harder to put a price on benefits to the environment or others than to                                               come up with the costs – Worry that it may be biased
G.           Upon whom should the burdens of responding (or not responding) fall?
III.          History of Environmental Law
A.           First Generation Environmental Laws (early 1970s)
1.            1971-1973:  NEPA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act
2.            Ambitious (unrealistic?) legislation with stringent standards
3.            Rise of national environmental organizations
4.            Pro-environmental judiciary
5.            Industry felt unsettled
               B.    Second Generation Environmental Laws (late 1970s)
1.            Energy Crisis
2.            Courts insist on strict implementation
3.            TSCA, RCRA, CERCLA – Particular substances
4.            Substantial improvements in environmental quality
5.            U.S. economy continues to grow – do not have to choose between economy and     environmental protection
6.            Unrealistic legislation creates cycle of distrust – Believed they were supposed to       solve problems, not just make them slightly better
               C.    Environmental Law’s Second Decade (1980s)
1.            Election of Ronald Reagan on platform of deregulation
2.            Legislative backlash to Reagan’s efforts
               A.           Congress stokes public concern about environmental risks
4.            Legislative amendments create detailed requirements, reducing EPA discretion
5.            Environmental law becomes settled – Attack by Reagan failed
               D.    Environmental Law’s Third Decade (1990s)
1.            Conservative judiciary – Less environmental wins
2.            President George H.W. Bush and deregulation
3.            Contract with America
4.            Executive stokes public concern about environmental risks
5.            Legislative stalemate – No changes since the early 1990s
               E.    Legislative Stalemate (2000s)
1.            Political pathology leads to legislative stalemate
2.            Administrative innovation
3.            Emergence of climate change
4.            Risking importance of energy to environmental law
               F.            Capstone Problem
                              1.            Legal Analysis
                                             A.           Equal Protection
                                                            i.             Discriminatory Purpose and Disproportionate Impact –                                                                                                          Disproportionate impact is not sufficient on its own but can be                                                                             used as evidence of Discriminatory purpose
                                                                           1.            Care more about one group of people – Health concerns                                                                                          looked into more for one group on a different project
                                                                           2.            Easier or more efficient alternative not used because it                                                                                                     would or would not harm one group
                                             B.           Executive Order
                                                            i.             In all parts of law – vague = fuzziness (find out who that                                                                                  benefits) – here it is the agency
                                                            ii.            Cannot sue under the Executive Order (6-609) but it is still                                                                                    binding on the Agency
                              2.            Overall Objective
                                             A.           Recognition of the Problem – Focus on the underlying problem
                                                            i.             If the underlying problem is the focus, this could help with                                                                                  future projects (empowering the community)
                                             B.           Stop the highway project
IV.          Torts
               A.    What is the relevance of tort law to environmental law?
               1.            Source of environmental law

litigate than recovery, uncertain and                                                     multiple causation, under-deterrence (won’t stop other                                                                       development)
V.           Administrative Law
A.    Why Administration?
1.            Technical expertise
2.            Workload
3.            Political Expediency
               B.           Structure of Administrative Lawmaking
                              1.    Congress enacts a statute.
                              A.           Statute must fall within federal powers conferred by the Constitution. 
                              B.           Statute includes a delegation of rulemaking authority to an                                                                            administrative agency. 
                                                            a.            Example:  Congress enacts the Clean Air Act pursuant to its                                                                                 Commerce Clause power. Clean Air Act § 111, 42 U.S.C. § 7411,                                                                                         authorizes EPA to issue regulations regulating emissions from                                                                                new stationary sources of air pollution.
                              2.            Agency promulgates a regulation.
                              A.           Regulation implements and interprets the statute.
                              B.           Regulation sets out a broadly applicable rule.
                                                            a.            Example:  EPA issues regulations, pursuant to Clean Air Act §                                                                                 111, specifying new source performance standards for various                                                                                 specific categories of sources.  See, e.g., 40 C.F.R. Subpt. WWW.
                              3.            Agency takes specific action to apply regulation to a particular situation.
                              A.           Specific action must be consistent with the regulation.
                                                            a.            Examples:  EPA issues a permit authorizing a new stationary                                                                                      source to emit air pollution within the limits specified in the                                                                                 applicable new source performance standards regulations.
                                                                           EPA issues compliance order against new stationary source for                                                                                       violating limits specified in the applicable new source                                                                                              performance standards regulations.