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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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Fifth Edition
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Environmental Law
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