The world’s oceans contain complex and dynamic ecosystems and raise issues of domestic and international law. Lawyers and policymakers interested in ocean and marine issues can work in a number of areas including coastal development and beach access, marine reserves and conservation of imperiled ocean species, regulation of plastics pollution, wave energy development, and issues that arise in international waters.
Water law involves issues such as who has rights to use or consume the water, instream flows for fish and wildlife purposes, the relationship of groundwater and surface water, and water transfers.
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.
The principal methods of public control of the use of private land, from traditional judicial doctrines, such as nuisance and eminent domain, through statutory comprehensive planning regimes.
The course also covers traditional zoning and planning issues, such as spot zoning, floating zones, nonconforming uses, variances and special exceptions. Sections on land valuation in eminent domain, and the impact of income and property taxation on land use, are also included.
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.
The course provides an introduction to the laws regulating natural resources management and environmental protection of coastal and marine ecosystems. The course emphasizes conflicts between public and private uses of the coastal zone, state and federal conflicts, and natural resource issues.
Specific topics covered in the course include coastal management, beach access and public trust, fisheries law and the law of the sea, protection of marine mammals, and ocean renewable energy development. Laws and treaties discussed include, among others, the Coastal Zone Management Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
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.
The ocean makes life on earth possible, but there is too much going into the ocean (CO2, plastics) and too much coming out (marine life, habitat). I am inspired every day to chart a better future for the ocean.