Spring 2000

Fall 1999

A Message from the Dean

Cities at the Horizon
Communities at the Horizon
Eastward from Our Horizon: U.S., China & Russia
Beyond the Horizon: Innovation and Technology

ILE Lecture: Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. L'60
Profile: Richard E. Rosin L'68
Profile: Pamela Daley L'79
Profile: Professor Jason Johnston
Profile: Howard Chang
Profile: Robert A. Gorman
Oral Legal History Project

Snippets of History
Symposium
Faculty Notes
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam

Penn Law


In his course "Natural Resources Law and Policy", Professor Jason Johnston covers not only the law governing the acquisition of private rights in natural resources such as water, timber, and wildlife, but also the law and economics of public resource management.  The course analyzes the administrative law of public resource management (such as NEPA and the Endangered Species Act (ESA)), and also explores alternative, market-based management approaches.  He analyzes the recent movement toward a transactional approach to environmental protection (such as Habitat Conservation Plans under the ESA) in a forthcoming article “The Law and Economics of Environmental Contracts” in Environmental Contracts and Other Innovative Approaches to Environmental Regulation, editors Dekeletaere and Orts.

Regulators, Developers, and Communities in Accord

With many of the most egregious forms of pollution now reduced, environmental law and regulation is increasingly oriented toward ecosystem restoration and renewal.  Environmental contracts are a cornerstone of restoration-oriented environmental law.   For instance, under the leadership of Secretary of Interior Babbitt, over two hundred  Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) under the federal Endangered Species Act have been negotiated since 1994.

HCPs represent a formal, legally binding agreement between regulators and developers.  Rather than simply enjoining development (as the ESA’s private taking prohibition has been interpreted to require in some circumstances), HCPs recognize that development itself may generate the necessary capital to effectively preserve critical species habitat.   HCPs represent a compromise, but one in which local environmental groups and local citizens play a much more important role than under traditional regulation.  While incomplete, our HCP study so far indicates that you don’t have a successful HCP without some pretty strong local support for preservation of the habitat.  Often, an HCP provides general local amenities by preserving open space.  As a legal matter, this is not what the Endangered Species Act was targeted to do.  As an empirical matter, this is one of the local benefits that predicts when an HCP will be successful and when it won’t. 
Brownfields Redevelopment - the redevelopment of land that has been contaminated by hazardous waste - is going on across the country, but Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program is a national leader.  Like HCPs, Brownfields Redevelop-ment is fundamentally contractual: in exchange for doing cleanup and exposure-mitigating development today, a developer is given a legally binding assurance that no more mitigation will be required in the future. The idea is that when the land is put back into industrial use, that use itself precludes certain kinds of exposure pathways — such as very young children eating contaminated dirt in a housing development.   Plus, you can get a piece of property that’s been off the tax rolls back on the tax rolls providing jobs, taxes and enhanced local public goods.  For these reasons, Brownfields Redevelopment has been an interesting issue politically, oftentimes bringing Republican governors together with Democratic big city mayors.


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