Environmental Justice Law Seminar

This course considers the political economy of environmental law. We will critically analyze those laws through the lenses of race, class, and equity. To do so, we will focus on a debate among lawyers, social scientists, community leaders, and more recently, government agencies over regulation and how it distributes the benefits and burdens of environmental quality. The debate is over whether low-income and minority populations are disproportionately exposed to environmental risks (such as toxic air emissions and groundwater contamination). It is the subject of considerable analysis, so we will need to familiarize ourselves with environmental racism, methods for analyzing disparate health outcomes, the legal landscape and policy responses, and the role of lawyers in litigating and organizing around such claims. Topics will include constitutional and civil rights claims, statistical claims, social movement strategies and environmental lawyering, citizen science, agency standard-setting and permitting, risk assessment and contaminated properties, information disclosure, and the unique problems posed by disasters and climate change.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:
Letter grade with pass/fail option. A paper is required which may be used to satisfy the Upperclass Writing Requirement.