Wetlands Law: A Course Source
Stephen Johnson, Mercer University School of Law
Pub Date: 2015
Publisher: CALI's eLangdell® Press
Conditions of Use
The text has neither an index nor a glossary. The text is searchable, however, and provides a good background on the cases relevant to wetlands read more
The text has neither an index nor a glossary. The text is searchable, however, and provides a good background on the cases relevant to wetlands jurisdiction in the United States. It covers Leslie Salt Co., the Bayview Decision, SWANCC, and significant nexus, the most relevant cases and concepts in current wetlands oversight. The book provides a good background into the import, relevance, and classification of wetlands using the most current classification schemes in use. Additionally, the book does a good job separating the science from the history of the issue of wetland jurisdiction in the US.
The book was carefully written and edited. I did not notice any errors in content. Additionally, the book is very evenhanded in presenting the information and the history of the issues of wetlands loss and protection in the US. The author does so objectively and clearly in a manner that is useful for any instructor covering wetlands oversight. The author does present his opinion on matters, but signals when he is doing so, and provides the rationale for his opinions, enabling the reader to question those opinions and draw his own conclusions.
As the issues covered in this text are currently in flux, any text must be easily amendable to remain relevant to the topic. This text is structured in such a manner that providing updates will be relatively straightforward and will not disrupt the overall organization of the material.
The subject matter can be a bit abstruse, but the book does a good job presenting relatively complex concepts in a straightforward and easy to understand manner. I would have not qualm assigning this text to an undergraduate class, even one that did not have training in law. The text also provides exercises to increase understanding of the concepts related in the chapters.
As the book is treating with legal terms and concepts, consistency is paramount, and the author does a great job maintaining this consistency throughout the text.
Rather than just presenting a list of cases in historical order, the author separates the overall history of wetlands jurisdiction from the sequence of cases that determine our present situation. The author is also careful to provide the information on the science behind wetlands function and the benefits provided by wetlands from the case descriptions. This structure is profoundly useful when presenting the issue to undergraduates in particular as it allows a professor to assign background material prior to a discussion of the importance of the current debate.
In my opinion, it is important that the author starts with the scientific background of the issue, then proceeds with the history of wetlands jurisdiction in the US before undertaking his analysis of case law. This structure provides the necessary framework for students to understand the background informing the decisions reached by courts in the relevant cases presented in the text. The author also does a good job linking the concepts together as he explicates the information. Paragraphs in the text are
I especially like the fact that the author provided a non-linked table of contents as well as an interactive version. The former allows the reader to more quickly asses the overall structure of the book without the distraction of live links. There is a bit of confusion in the live contents in that some items (Research Problem) are presented in blue text as if they were live links, but they do not function as such. Correcting the text to have a consistent representation of live links, or having the text in blue actually serve as links would be more helpful. The other item that would assist students in using the text is a "back" button so that students can easily return to the contents without having to scroll.
The grammar in the text is excellent. The author does a great job complying with the rules of formal, academic prose. He does so without making the work obtuse, which will benefit less-adept readers in some classes.
The present regulatory situation regarding wetland jurisdiction in the US is one of uncertainty, both for developers and for regulators. Given that impacts to wetlands must be either avoided or mitigated, and that these features of the landscape provide critical, if temporary, habitat for migratory waterfowl, the uncertainty over this issue has real economic consequences in the US. Furthermore, the present lack of protection for isolated, non-navigable, intrastate wetlands could imperil many acres of land in the US, which have both biological and cultural significance.
The author did an excellent job in creating this text. The subject matter is extremely relevant in the field of Environmental Science, as well as in Biology. As the United States continues to wrestle with how much oversight and protection to give to its wetlands resources, having a text such as this will go a long way to promoting a rational, informed discussion of the consequences of changes to the current policy regime. The book is enormously relevant, and timely.
Table of Contents
About CALI eLangdell Press
Summary of Contents
Table of Contents
About the Author
- Chapter 1 The Science
- Chapter 2 The History of Regulation
- Chapter 3 Administrative Law
- Chapter 4 Regulation of Wetlands and Waters of the United States
- Chapter 5 Additions and Discharges
- Chapter 6 Section 404 Permits
- Chapter 7 Mitigation
- Chapter 8 EPA’s Role in Permitting and EPA’s Veto Authority
- Chapter 9 States’ Roles and State Programs
- Chapter 10 Administrative Appeals, Judicial Review and Enforcement
- Chapter 11 Regulatory Takings
About the Book
The Wetlands Law Course Source can be used as the primary text for a two credit seminar or as a supplemental text to cover wetlands material in an environmental law, natural resources law, or water law course. In addition, the administrative law chapter can be used as a supplement in a range of administrative law-related courses, such as environmental law, health law, labor law, immigration law, and others, to introduce basic administrative law concepts.
Unlike traditional casebooks or coursebooks, a “course source” includes resources to train students in all three apprenticeships identified by the Carnegie Foundation in its influential report on legal education, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law. To address the knowledge apprenticeship, the Wetlands Law Course Source includes all of the traditional elements of a casebook or coursebook (cases, commentary, notes and questions) and includes several hypotheticals and problem exercises that focus on reinforcing wetlands law. In addition, as one of the many forms of summative and formative assessment included in the book, every chapter includes one or more CALI exercise as a “quiz” to reinforce the material covered in the chapter. To address the skills apprenticeship, the Wetlands Law Course Source includes sixteen separate legal research exercises, several drafting exercises, a negotiation exercise, and an interviewing and counseling exercise. To address the values apprenticeship, the Course Source includes several professionalism scenarios, with questions related to the scenarios.
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About the Contributors
Stephen M. Johnson is the W.F.G. Professor of Law at Mercer University Law School in Macon, Georgia. He received his J.D. from Villanova University School of Law and an LL.M. in environmental law from the George Washington University Law School. Prior to teaching, he served as an attorney for the Bureau of Regulatory Counsel in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (now DEP) and as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Defense Section, where he worked on environmental litigation.
He joined the Mercer faculty in 1993 and served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2002-2012. He specializes in Environmental Law, but has also taught Torts, Statutory Law, Administrative Law, and Dispute Resolution. His scholarship focuses on wetlands, environmental justice, economics and the environment, technology and the law, and administrative law. He has authored several CALI exercises on environmental law and has served on the Board of Directors of CALI since 1998.