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Last updated: 12/13/2005 6:41:18 PM
California Western -- Richard Finkmoore
Courses Taught - Richard J. Finkmoore

Property I & II

Environmental Law

International Environmental Law

The Environmental Law of NAFTA

PROPERTY I & II (3 units each)
An introduction to the concept and law of property; acquisition of property; estates in land; private and public land use controls; real estate transactions and landlord-tenant relationships.
This course provides an introduction to U.S. environmental law suitable both for students who plan a career in the field and those who are interested environmental issues generally.  Because environmental law is vast, we can’t cover all of it in one semester.  Therefore, this course emphasizes the “natural resources portion” of environmental law – the more dynamic and the more interesting part of the larger field.  This course covers public land law (focusing on the national forests), endangered species law, water law, parts of energy and mining law, in addition to many traditional environmental law topics, such as water pollution control, the National Environmental Policy Act, administrative law, and enforcement. We will not study air pollution control, hazardous or toxic substances, or local land-use regulation.  To understand the larger context within which environmental law operates, the course utilizes a case study approach.  We examine the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, a proposed resort development in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, the battle over wilderness in Utah, timber harvesting and mining in Colorado, the preservation of Mono Lake in California, and other environmental controversies.   back to top
International environmental law has developed as a field of law only in the last two decades.  It is dynamic, fascinating, and critically important.  This course begins with an overview of the current state of the world’s environment and the human activities which effect the biosphere.  Because students are not expected to have any prior background in international law, the course also introduces the process of making international law and the institutions that participate in this process and in the implementation of environmental law, such as the United Nations Environment Program and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).  We then examine several of the most significant current international environmental issues and the treaties and other legal mechanisms created to address the following key issues: modification of our atmosphere by ozone depletion and climate change (the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols); the crisis in biological diversity, including the protection of whales and dolphins, and trade in endangered species (the Biodiversity and CITES Conventions); the world’s fresh water supply; the law of the sea concerning fisheries conservation; and the relationship between international trade and the global environment (the World Trade Organization).  In addition, students will have the opportunity to investigate an international environmental issue of their choice.  In this course, students will also gain familiarity with the central concepts in this field, such as sustainable development, the precautionary principle, and the common heritage of humankind.   back to top
THE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW OF NAFTA (2 units) [part of the NAFTA Summer Program]
This course explores the path-breaking rules and processes that reconcile trade and environmental concerns in the NAFTA regime.  We begin by considering how environmental concerns came to be included in the current trade arrangement between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, and then turn to the specific environmental provisions incorporated in NAFTA itself (such as the role of multilateral environmental agreements, permissible standards for products, and the applicability of the precautionary principle in setting standards).  We give special attention to the environmental implications of NAFTA’s emphasis on investment protection, particularly the controversial “investor-state” provisions of Chapter 11 which allow private businesses to sue governments over environmental laws and policies alleged to have harmed them.  The course also considers the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, widely referred to as the “environmental side agreement,” which represents a comprehensive effort to improve cooperation among the three NAFTA parties on environmental matters.  Of special interest are the agreement’s provisions which allow citizens to submit petitions alleging a party is failing to enforce its own environmental laws. We will spend two days at the headquarters of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Montreal, Quebec, to experience directly the workings of this innovative regional organization.  We also consider the pressing environmental problems in U.S.-Mexico border region which are addressed by the second NAFTA-related agreement, the Border Environment Cooperation Agreement, and the institutions created to identify and fund infrastructure projects throughout the region.  The course concludes with assessments of NAFTA’s impact on the environment and the extent to which environmental concerns have shaped the U.S-Central American Free Trade Agreement (“CAFTA”) and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (“FTAA”).    back to top

Full course descriptions are available in PDF format on the J.D. Curriculum page.

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