Course Syllabus

Introduction to U.S. Environmental Law
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Errol Meidinger, Professor and Vice Dean of Law
State University of New York at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100, USA

Phone: Buffalo: 716/645-6692; fax: 716/645-2064
Freiburg (while in residence): 761/203-3783

Overview of the Course

Purpose. The purpose of this course to introduce German law students to the primary actors, processes, principles, and emerging trends in American environmental law. The topic is far too extensive to permit detailed examination in a year, let alone a week. Still, students should come away with an working sense of the system and how they could find more information on it to address specific issues.

Teaching Method. Most of the information in this course will be conveyed through lectures and discussions. However, to prevent the lectures and discussions from being overly abstract or vague, they will be based on a few carefully selected readings. The readings are posted on this website, hyperlinked through the topical outline below.

Requirements. Each student will be expected to do the following:

Meeting Time.   14.00 to 18.00 daily, February 5-9, 2001

Meeting Place.   Feb. 5, 6, 7, and 9: Hörsaal 2408
                             Feb. 8  Institut für Öffentliches Recht 
                                          (KG II, 5. Stock), großer Arbeitsraum

Topical Outline

Introductory Session, Monday, Dec. 11

  1. The American Legal System
    1. Federalism
    2. The Commerce Clause
    3. Separation of Powers
    4. Role of Agencies
      1. Rule Making
      2. Adjudication
      3. Enforcement
      4. Judicial Review
    5. Role of NGOs and Citizens
    6. Judicial Review

Monday, Feb. 5

  1. Natural Resource Ownership and Regulation
    1. Land
      1. Private Lands
        1. Nuisance Law
        2. Land use regulation
        3. Mining regulation
        4. Easements and Covenants
        5. Takings
      1. Public Lands
        1. Multiple use management (NFMA, FLPMA)
        2. Mining ("hard rock" and "mineral leasing")
        3. Special area protections (parks, reserves, wilderness areas, marine sanctuaries, wild and scenic rivers)
        4. Introduction to the National Environmental Policy Act

Tuesday, Feb. 6

    1. Water
      1. Riparian Ownership
      2. Prior Appropriation
      3. The Public Trust Doctrine
    1. Wildlife
      1. The Rule of Capture
      2. State Regulation
      3. Endangered Species Protection
        1. Designation
        2. Critical Habitat

Wednesday, Feb. 7

  1. Administrative Pollution Regulation
    1. The Clean Water Act
      1. Standard Setting
        1. Water quality
        2. Discharge limits
      2. Enforcement
      3. Point/non-point sources; Public/private
      4. The TMDL problem
    1. The Clean Air Act
      1. National Ambient Air Quality Standards
      2. State Implementation Plans
      3. Emissions Standards
      4. Emissions Trading and Administrative Discretion
      5. Acid Rain Program
    1. Hazardous and Solid Waste Management: RCRA
      1. Hazardous/non-hazardous distinction
      2. TSD permits
      3. Imminent and substantial endangerment
    1. Abandoned site clean up (CERCLA)
      1. Response authority
      2. National Priority List
      3. Response fund and cleanup liability

Thursday, Feb. 8

    1. Regulatory Enforcement
      1. Administrative
      2. Citizen Suits
    2. Toxic Substances
      1. Testing and
      2. Premanufacture and processing notices
      3. Imminent hazards
      4. Toxic Tort Litigation
        • Video: A Civil Action
  1. Information as environmental regulation
    1. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
      1. Records
      2. Exemptions
      3. Trade Secrets
    2. Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA)
      1. Emergency planning and notification
      2. Hazardous chemical inventory and release reporting
    3. Securities reporting laws

Friday, Feb. 9

  1. Emerging Institutional Developments
    1. Pollution prevention initiatives
    2. Ecosystem and adaptive management movements
      • Reading: Meidinger, "Organizational and Legal Challenges of Ecosystem Management" (excerpt to be posted shortly)
    1. Watershed management organizations
      • Video: The Applegate Partnership
    1. "Good Neighbor" agreements
    1. Environmental certification programs
    1. International coordination