Law's Environment

How the Law Shapes the Places We Live

John Copeland Nagle

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John Copeland Nagle shows how our reliance on environmental law affects the natural environment through an examination of five diverse places in the American landscape: Alaska's Adak Island; the Susquehanna River; Colton in California’s Inland Empire; Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the badlands of North Dakota; and Alamogordo in New Mexico. Nagle asks why some places are preserved by the law while others are not, and he finds that environmental laws often have unexpected results while other laws have surprising effects on the environment. Nagle argues that sound environmental policy requires better coordination among the many laws, regulations, and social norms that determine the values and uses of our scarce lands and waters.

John Copeland Nagle is the John N. Matthews Professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School.

"Nagle reveals a remarkably nuanced understanding of the many ways that law affects the landscape.  I wanted to visit each place after reading the book and found myself looking differently at the landscape around me."—Michael P. Vandenbergh, Carlton Takington Professor of Law and Director, Climate Change Research Network, Vanderbilt University Law School

"Most authors tell the stories of people and places that have already caught the public imagination. In this book, John Nagle takes a different tack. Through stories of ordinary, uncelebrated, places, he shows the complexity of the relationships between people, nature, and the law, and how those relationships shape places and the people who call them home. His case studies illuminate many of the toughest challenges environmental policy faces today, remind us that the outcomes of environmental law can be quite different than the intentions of its drafters, and highlight the importance of policy choices not explicitly aimed at the environment. It should be read by anyone with an interest in their own surroundings and communities."—Holly Doremus, Professor of Law, Berkeley Law

“Environmental law and policy are usually talked about in abstract terms. It's easy to lose track of the concrete settings that shape environmental law. This is a two-way interaction: the law itself is shaped by particular disputes in particular places. Professor Nagle resurrects this lost dimension of environmental law in lively, readable narratives. He tells the stories of some of the special places that have been touched by environmental law and of the people who live there. A ‘must read’ for anyone who cares about how the law and the land affect each other.”—Dan Farber, Sho Sato Professor of Law and Chair, Energy and Resources Group

“Nagle has written an important book on environmental law that should be of great interest to students and scholars of law and society.”—J. A. Pierceson, Choice

ISBN: 9780300126297
Publication Date: May 25, 2010
312 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
17 scattered b/w illus.