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This subject introduces students to the specialised field of environmental law, focusing on some of the key legal and policy issues concerning the regulation of environmental quality. It develops and integrates legal knowledge from a range of disciplinary and inter-disciplinary fields (e.g., administrative law and torts law; public policy and economic theory), augmenting this through study of specific environmental legislation and case law to build an understanding of the complex interactions that define environmental law. Topics addressed will include the theoretical foundations, political dimensions, and modes of environmental regulation, the structures of environmental governance and the interpretation of environmental statutes. Case studies considered will provide students with an understanding of the complexities of environmental regulation and liability, such as the regulation of air quality (including greenhouse gases), contaminated sites and hazardous substances.
Principal topics include:
- Theoretical foundations of environmental law, including economic and non-economic perspectives on environmental degradation
- Scientific predicate for environmental regulation: Risk assessment
- Objectives of environmental regulation: Risk management
- Distributional consequences of environmental policy
- Choice of regulatory tools: Command-and-control regulation, marketable permit schemes and effluent fees
- Choice of regulatory tools: Deposit-refund systems, liability rules, informational approaches
- Federalism and environmental regulation
- Environmental law and public choice
- Key case studies that illustrate the complexities of environmental law and liability, including the regulation of air quality, contaminated sites and hazardous substances, with particular focus on the US Clean Air Act and the US Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Although the focus of the course is not on Australian Environmental Law, parallels will be drawn through the assigned readings.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will have the following skills.
A student who has successfully completed this subject will be able to:
- Critically analyse choices among environmental policies
- Exhibit a sophisticated understanding of the political and institutional backdrop to the design of environmental regulatory programs
- Demonstrate a facility at interpreting complex environmental statutory schemes
- Understand and critically evaluate the major strands of the academic literature.
A student who has successfully completed this subject should have an advanced and integrated understanding of, and be able to critically analyse, reflect on and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts, and theories in relation to, the following issues:
- Economic and non-economic perspectives on environmental degradation and regulation
- The scientific predicate (risk assessment) and objectives (risk management) of environmental regulation
- The distributional consequences of environmental policy
- The choice of environmental regulatory tools, including command-and-control regulation, marketable permit schemes, effluent fees, deposit-refund systems, liability rules, informational approaches
- Federalism and environmental regulation
- Key case studies that illustrate the complexities of environmental law and liability, including the regulation of air quality and hazardous substances.
- Mastery of theoretical knowledge and demonstrated ability to critically reflect on theory and professional practice on issues of environmental law and policy
- Cognitive, technical, and creative skills to investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts, and theories and to apply established theories to different areas of environmental policy and regulation
- Communication and analytical skills to justify and interpret theoretical propositions, methodologies, conclusions and professional decisions to specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Technical and communication skills to design, evaluate, implement, analyse, and theorise about developments that contribute to environmental professional practice or legal scholarship
- Attitudes towards legal knowledge that include openness to new ideas and awareness of location and politics in its creation and use
- An applied understanding of diverse theoretical and domestic legal materials
- An awareness of the value of collaborative learning and participation in a seminar style teaching environment
- An expanded capacity for self-directed legal research involving interdisciplinary materials and high-level personal autonomy and accountability with respect to time management.
Last updated: 10 November 2023