Law 513 - Topics in California Environmental Law

Sean B. Hecht

Sean B. Hecht

Co-Executive Director, Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
Evan Frankel Professor of Policy and Practice
Co-Director, UCLA Law Environmental Law Clinic
B.A. Yale, 1988
J.D. University of Michigan, 1995
UCLA Faculty Since 2003
Course Description:

This course will provide an intensive look at California’s approaches to several areas of environmental and natural resources law.   California’s environmental regulatory systems raise important legal and policy issues, including questions of federalism, effective governance, and management of resources under scarcity.  California’s approach to regulation differs from that of the federal government in important respects, but the state has also developed structures and substantive laws that overlap or complement federal laws.  Litigation by stakeholders plays a unique role in implementing and enforcing some of California’s environmental laws.  At the same time, many of our laws have served as models for federal law as well as that of other states.  This seminar will enable a small group of students to study California’s environmental laws in an in-depth way.  The course will focus on a subset of topics for more intensive study and reflection, rather than attempt to be comprehensive.  Topics may include, for example, the California Environmental Quality Act; Proposition 65; air quality, water quality, and greenhouse gas regulation; coastal management; water resources; and forest management. 

Grades will be based in part on participation and weekly reaction papers. In addition, students may choose to submit either three papers of 6-8 pages in length over the course of the semester, or one longer term paper that may be used to satisfy the Substantial Analytic Writing (SAW) requirement.  Prior environmental law coursework or background will be helpful, but is not required.

Course Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this course students will be able to:

1. be familiar with California’s environmental regulatory systems, including questions of federalism, effective governance, and management of resources under scarcity

2. understand, assess, and write clearly about California environmental law and policy in a major research paper or series of smaller papers

3. understand the conceptual underpinnings of California environmental law and policy
4. be familiar with the conflicts of values and interests that inform environmental and environmental justice law and policy