EN 282 - U.S. Environmental Pollution Policy

In this course, we study approaches to regulating pollutants in air, water, and land in the United States. The course will provide an in depth review of the process of environmental policymaking in the U.S., while exploring the pros and cons of different regulatory approaches. The course has four primary objectives: (1) examining the trades-offs inherent in crafting pollution policy; (2) the role of science in the policy making process; (3) the different approaches used to motivate various societal players to act in ways that minimize the release of environmental pollutants; and (4) business perspectives on environmental policy and risks. The course draws on a wide range of academic and professional materials, including economic theories, political science, environmental law and policy, and technical/scientific information.


The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act are two of the major environmental statues in the United States, which we will explore as part of the course. Each law has spurned a wide range of regulations and standards, which have been shaped and modified by subsequent legal decisions, new scientific data, and changing administrations. We study these laws by studying their key provisions and the resulting regulations, and by analyzing their implementation in specific cases. The following key questions are addressed: At what point in the pollution generation process to intervene? What type of intervention to take? What societal issues to consider in the regulatory decision? At what level of government to regulate? How to apportion the responsibilities among different levels of government? What scientific data to use and what analytical methods to apply? How to motivate polluters to comply with the regulations?


In addition to these major media-based statutes, we will also focus on emerging environmental issues, including the environmental risks and debate surrounding the expanded role of "fracking" in oil and natural gas production in the United States, and the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Because of the advanced and ever-changing nature of the material for this course the readings are taken from many sources: excerpts from books, published articles, the web, the Federal Register, internal reports from research organizations, and so on. In addition, students perform independent research on specific topics, especially recent relevant case studies.


The course has a seminar format. Students have regular writing assignments, give presentations in class, and are expected to actively participate in class discussions. Attendance is mandatory except for well justified personal hardship cases. In addition to the weekly seminars, the course will include a seminar on environmental databases, data manipulation, and data presentation. The seminar will include instruction on some of the advanced functions and features of Microsoft Excel.

Anticipated Terms Offered: Fall or Spring

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