Ecosystems and Biodiversity
Balancing natural resources uses with the needs of ecosystems and biodiversity is increasingly critical with climate change and impacts to forests, lands, waters, and species. A web of laws govern the protection and extraction of these vital natural resources we depend on in our daily lives.
Lawyers and policymakers work on a variety of issues in the natural resources field, domestically and around the world, including public lands such as national forests and wilderness areas, forest and timber resources, mining and minerals, water rights, and endangered species.
This class takes an in-depth look at our greatest global environmental challenge, climate change, through a discussion of the international treaty regime.
It will begin with an overview of climate science and a discussion of the existing and expected impacts of climate change. Next, the course will discuss the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, and the associated Katowice rulebook. Time permitting, the course will discuss related hot topics such as climate and pipeline litigation and the role of non-state actors.
This class will discuss U.S. law and policy. It will begin with an overview of climate science and a discussion of the existing and expected impacts of climate change. Next, the course will discuss federal laws, regulations, and policies that regulate greenhouse gases and otherwise address climate change impacts. The course will then discuss state and local approaches to address climate change.
The class will also discuss climate change litigation in federal and state courts. Time permitting, the course will compare U.S. approaches to climate change law and policy in other countries.
This course addresses preservation and cultural resources law in a variety of contexts with an emphasis on emerging issues under the National Historic Preservation Act, the Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act, and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
This course will also examine the legal framework for the protection of cultural property internationally, covering classic controversies as well as more recent events.
Public and private forest lands have long been one of our most treasured natural resources. Forests provide clean water and air, habitat for a diverse array of flora and fauna, recreational opportunities, wood fiber, and other products for human and non-human use. Decisions on how to prioritize among these amenities involve hotly debated scientific principles and often provoke a debate that can cause deep divisions among people. These issues play out at local, state, and national levels among an array of public, private, and governmental interests and entities.
This class will provide an initial historical, legal, and policy framework for the debate surrounding our national forest heritage as well as state and private lands. Discussions with conservation groups, attorneys, community foresters, congressional staff, industry representatives, members of the media, agency personnel, and/or political appointees will help participants fully understand the many aspects of modern forest management.
This course examines the principal laws and institutions in the field of international environmental law. The course begins with a review of the fundamental underpinnings of environmental and international law, including the precautionary principle, polluter pays principle, state responsibility for environmental harm, and permanent sovereignty over natural resources.
The course next examines issues of the global commons, such as ozone depletion, climate change, and depletion of ocean resources. It explores international treaties to protect biological diversity, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
It also examines major pollution issues, such as hazardous waste trade. Throughout these discussions, we examine development issues, the polarization of issues as developed and developing country issues, and the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the development and enforcement of international environmental law.
This class takes an in-depth, real-life look at the complex of multilateral treaties that concerns international wildlife management, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, the Convention on Migratory Species, the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, regional fisheries management agreements, and the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling.
In addition to achieving competence in the various treaty mechanisms, students will have the opportunity to explore contemporary wildlife issues that currently make these treaties dynamic, “living” documents. These issues include, inter alia, Japanese whaling and the legitimacy of the International Whaling Commission; the African elephant ivory trade and the tension between conservation and sustainable use to support livelihoods; the management of commercially exploited species, especially tuna species; enforcement, consumer demand, and rhino horn trade; and the polar bears future in light of climate change impacts.
This course examines the complicated intersection between law and science in managing and protecting the environment. Using a variety of environmental and natural resources statutes as examples, it explores integration of law and science in setting regulatory standards; the process of making scientific determinations and resolving disputes involving science; and the challenges of implementing environmental regulations given scientific uncertainties, resource limitations, and political controversy.
The course also examines specific statutes and topics such as the Data Quality Act; disputes involving science under the Federal Rules of Evidence, adaptive management, scientists as advocates, and science and law in the media. The course will look in particular at how the Trump administration deals with issues involving science. The class grade is primarily based on a paper.
The Columbia River - the legendary Great River of the West - is a signature natural resource of the Pacific Northwest. It drains an international watershed the size of France, encompasses unsurpassed scenic landscapes, and once supported the greatest concentration of chinook salmon in the world. Development of the river’s resources has helped to power one of the United States’ most vibrant regional economies. Increasingly however, exploiting the Columbia Basin’s vast economic potential has come into conflict with sustaining its environment and cultures.
This course explores the numerous environmental, legal, and institutional problems surrounding use and management of the Columbia Basin’s natural resources, including its valuable Pacific salmon runs.
The course includes examination of a cross section of natural resource issues central to the identity and economy of the Northwest: Indian treaty fishing rights, dam building and operations, statutes such as the Northwest Power Act and Endangered Species Act, and regulations governing diverse issues ranging from protecting the Columbia Gorge’s magnificent scenery to conflicts between hydropower dams and renewable energy facilities. Classes will include guest lectures from experts and practitioners directly involved in Columbia Basin resource issues, and will include at least one major field trip up the Columbia River itself.
This course considers a variety of natural resources and environmental law issues of concern to American Indian peoples. The broad themes of the course involve understanding the significance of tribal sovereignty and distinguishing between tribal sovereign control over and proprietary ownership of natural resources. The course also examines a variety of federal-state-tribal jurisdictional conflicts over natural resources development and environmental protection.
Specific topics include land claims; the land-into-trust process, environmental regulation; mineral and timber development; water rights, and fishing, hunting, and gathering rights, which are of particular concern to tribes in the Pacific Northwest.
The class will present an interdisciplinary overview of natural resources law and policy and will also explore the interaction between law and science.
The course will focus on law and policy considerations relevant to land and ecosystem management, as well as management and conservation of biodiversity. The class will also consider the challenges inherent in integrating law, policy, and science to effectively protect and manage these resources. Finally, the course will highlight issues posed by both climate change and recent political change.
This course surveys the constitutional, statutory, and common law governing the management of federal lands, which comprise over one-quarter of the nation’s land mass and over one-half of the state of Oregon.
The course reviews the history of public land acquisition, disposition, and reservation, and also examines the authority of Congress, the Executive, the judiciary, and the states over public land, focusing especially on the West, where public lands predominate. The course explains the laws related to the use of public forests, rangelands, and minerals as well as the water, wildlife, recreation, and wilderness resources of the public lands.
The application of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act to federal lands are specific topics of emphasis as is public lands litigation and the role of public lands in helping to contribute to and ameliorate the climate crisis.
This course explores legal schemes for securing and using water rights in surface water and groundwater for private and public uses in the United States.
We will examine the riparian and prior appropriation doctrines of water allocation, groundwater management regimes, the public rights to water, and federal and tribal water management and regulation of water resources. We will also consider the evolving role of science, economics, and policy in water allocation law.
Many experts believe that the world now faces the sixth episode of mass extinction for life on planet Earth – this one caused by humans. This course focuses on how law in the United States tries to avoid such an outcome.
The class examines legal mandates for protection and management of biological diversity. Beginning with a brief overview of the scientific aspects of species, ecosystems, and genetic resources, the course includes consideration of interplay between science and law throughout its survey of laws related to wildlife. Substantively, the class analyzes the property and constitutional underpinnings of state and federal wildlife laws, looks at examples and structures of state regulation of wildlife, and examines the special case of American Indians’ rights to, and control over, wildlife resources.
The course also focuses on several federal statutory schemes, including the Lacey Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and laws and policies aimed at controlling invasive species. The course considers federal management of wildlife habitat under statutes such as the National Forest Management Act and National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, and briefly covers international efforts to protect biodiversity. Due to the statute’s broad influence on the field, the class devotes particular attention to the federal Endangered Species Act.
We also offer courses useful to students in any type of environmental practice such as Environmental Litigation, Environmental Mediation and Negotiation, Environmental Law Moot Court, Energy Law Moot Court, Administrative Law, and the Supreme Court and the Environment. Students may also opt to do an individual research project (paper) on a topic of interest in this area.
Alumni on the Front Lines
- Policy AdvisorU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C.
I’m honored to have worked in various roles supporting wildlife conservation, a cause I care deeply about. Lewis & Clark helped prepare me for this career by, among other things, exposing me to issues and stakeholder perspectives I’ve encountered.
Doing the Work
Gain practical experience in natural resources issues through our on-campus clinics and institutes:
Earthrise Law Center Global Law Alliance Green Energy Institute
Global Law Alliance Cited By Ecuador’s Constitutional Court In Landmark Decision
Ecuador’s Constitutional Court recently issued a landmark decision extending the rights of nature to wild animals. In reaching its decision, the Court cited an opinion piece by Professors Lyman and Fromherz of Lewis & Clark Law School’s Global Law Alliance for Animals and the Environment.
Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law is located in Wood Hall on the Law Campus.
Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law
Lewis & Clark Law School
10101 S. Terwilliger Boulevard MSC 51
Portland OR 97219