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Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society, Fifth Edition

  • Zygmunt J B Plater
  • Robert H Abrams
  • Robert L. Graham
  • Lisa Heinzerling
  • David A. Wirth
  • Noah D. Hall
Series / Aspen Casebook Series
Teaching Materials
Table of contents

Environmental Law & Policy: Nature, Law & Society is a coursebook designed to access the law of environmental protection through a “taxonomic” approach. It explores the range of legal structures and legal methodologies of the field—rather than simply designing it according to air, water, toxics, etc. as subject media (which often results in duplicative legal coverage). All the major subject areas of pollution and resource conservation are covered, but they are covered according to the legal approaches they represent. The book is “Saxist,” because it originally arose and continues to carry on themes from the teaching, guidance, and writings of the late Joseph Sax, the eminent pioneer of the environment law field. Sax emphasized the interaction between common law and public law statutory structures, and introduced the public trust doctrine as a thread undergirding and running through the entire field of environmental law.


  • Coverage of the December 2015 Paris COP-21 climate agreement in its several different aspects, incorporating analysis by co-author Prof. David Wirth who played an active role in international preparations for the Paris accord.
  • Expanded material on carbon pricing—carbon taxes—until recently widely thought to be a politically impossible alternative avenue for mitigation of global climate disruption.
  • Fracking—case and discussion materials on fracking, the major new fossil energy extraction technology that is changing the energy profile and landscape of the U.S.
  • Tracking major recent revisions in toxic substance regulation, with essential comparisons to the contemporary European model of market access chemical regulation.
  • Regulation of Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act and otherwise.
  • The Flint, Michigan toxic lead water pollution disaster, with both civil and criminal repercussions.
  • An updated guide through the complexities of tensions between private property rights and environmental protections, and an innovative clarification of recent Supreme Court caselaw.
  • An innovative chapter on official “planning”— a basic and problematic element of environmental governance, whether at the local level or the national public lands level.


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About the authors
Robert H. Abrams

Robert H. ldquo;Bordquo; Abrams currently is Professor of Law at Florida A M University, College of Law. Previously he served on the law faculty at Wayne State University for 27 years during which time he also taught frequently at the University of Michigan Law School and School of Natural Resources Environment. He is an expert in both Water Law and Environmental Law. In addition to his work on Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society, he is co-author of Legal Control of Water Resources (with Joseph Sax, Barton Thompson, Jr., and John Leshy, 5th ed. 2012). Professor Abrams is a past Chair of the ABA Water Resources Committee and is serving as a Vice Chair of that committee. Professor Abrams is an elected life member of the American Law Institute and has been inducted into the August Order of Water Buffalo. Professor Abrams attended both Stanford Law School and the University of Michigan Law School, earning his J.D. from the latter in 1973.

Robert L. Graham

Robert L. Graham is a partner at Jenner Block LLP in Chicago. He is the founder of the firmrsquo;s Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Law Practice and a former Managing Partner of the firm. Mr. Graham is a nationally recognized authority in environmental, health, safety, natural resources, and energy matters, including disputes involving the National Environmental Policy Act, Superfund, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, natural resource damages, and toxic torts. He has handled numerous civil and criminal cases nationwide involving those types of claims for over 30 years. Mr. Graham has served as a member of the Board of the Environmental Law Institute, the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ldquo;ELPCrdquo;), and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He is also one of the founders of ELPC, the leading Midwest environmental public interest law center. He has lectured on matters of environmental concern at numerous conferences and seminars, served as editor of Illinois Environmental Laws and Regulations, and written extensively on environmental law issues. He also has more than a decade of experience teaching environmental law at both Northwestern University School of Law and Loyola University School of Law. Mr. Graham attained his B.A. from the University of Michigan and his J.D. from the Harvard Law School. More information regarding Mr. Graham is available at http:www.jenner.compeoplebio.asp?id=113.

Lisa Heinzerling

Lisa Heinzerling is Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. She received an A.B. from Princeton University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the Law Review. She clerked for Judge Richard A. Posner on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and for Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. on the United States Supreme Court. She served as an assistant attorney general in Massachusetts, specializing in environmental law, before becoming a faculty member at Georgetown. She has been a visiting professor at the Yale and Harvard Law Schools. In 2003 she won the faculty teaching award at Georgetown. Professor Heinzerling is also a member-scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform, a think tank dedicated to making the positive case for health, safety, and environmental protection. Her book, written with Frank Ackerman and entitled Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing, was published by The New Press in February 2004. Most recently, Professor Heinzerling was the primary author for petitioners in Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the Supreme Court held that the Clean Air Act grants the EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases. More information regarding Professor Heinzerling and her publications are available at

Noah D. Hall

Noah D. Hall is a law professor at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan specializing in environmental and water law. In addition to co-authoring Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society, he is also the co-author of Modern Water Law: Private Property, Public Rights, and Environmental Protection. His journal articles include ldquo;Political Externalities, Federalism, and a Proposal for an Interstate Environmental Impact Assessment Policyrdquo; (Harvard Environmental Law Review), ldquo;Protecting Freshwater Resources in the Era of Global Water Markets: Lessons Learned from Bottled Waterrdquo; (Water Law Review), and ldquo;Toward a New Horizontal Federalism: Interstate Water Management in the Great Lakes Regionrdquo; (Colorado Law Review). He writes the popular Great Lakes Law blog, Professor Hall graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, concentrating in environmental policy. He previously served as the founding Executive Director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center and has extensive litigation experience and numerous published decisions in state and federal courts. Most recently, he was appointed Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan for the Flint water crisis.

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Fifth Edition
Publication date
Connected eBook with Study Center (Digital Only)
Environmental Law
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