Wetlands Law: A Course Source
Stephen M. Johnson, Mercer University School of Law
Copyright Year: 2015
Last Update: 2018
Publisher: CALI's eLangdell® Press
Conditions of Use
The text is a comprehensive product on the legal aspects of wetlands. It does a good job of covering the science pertaining to wetlands and different value streams. The historical account is well drafted and makes for interesting reading. However,... read more
The text is a comprehensive product on the legal aspects of wetlands. It does a good job of covering the science pertaining to wetlands and different value streams. The historical account is well drafted and makes for interesting reading. However, it lacks coverage of indigenous issues relating to wetlands, such as access, use, and cultural significance. The chapter quizzes are useful memory tools and the problem exercises and scenarios and discussion questions are incredibly helpful to prompt deeper student engagement with wetlands law. The inclusion of mult-modal material, such as the section on audio/visual materials, makes this a truly valuable resource. The text does not contain an index, but you can search for keywords within the text. There is no glossary either. This would be a helpful addition for non-law students who are studying environmental law.
The text is accurate and includes key case law, such as SWANCC and Rapanos. It laso includes changes in wetlands law that occurred during the Trump Administration. However significant changes are expected under the Biden Administration, or at least a reversion to wetlands regulation applicable prior to the Trump Administration's changes. The text will likely require amending soon for that reason. The elements of wetlands law are described in an unbiased fashion. Where the author's opinions are provided, these are clearly identified and obvious to the reader. I did not spot any glaring mistakes, although some of the weblinks did not work (e.g. RAMSAR Convention links)
The text will likely require amending soon to reflect regulatory changes under the new Biden Administration. However, this should be a fairly simple exercise as the text is written in a way that will allow for easy revision.
The author has strived to deliver the content in a clear and accessible format. It is well-written and easily digestible for even the non-law student. Definitions of legal terms are clearly outlined and are sometimes complemented with appropriate images. Discussion questions and problem exercises have been thoughtfully prepared to aid readers with comprehending the legal text.
Writing style is consistent throughout, including use of abbreviations, legal terminology, legal referencing, and language use. Presentation formats are uniform across the chapters, which makes it easy for students to know what to expect with each chapter, e.g. students can anticipate hypotheticals and topic summarizing quizzes in pink highlighted bozes at the end of each chapter.
The author uses subheadings and textboxes methodically and with purpose throughout the text. Reading sections are appropriately sized allowing for simple easy revision when required.
The book is organized in an appropriate order. I would not consider changing the topic layout,
Images and charts appear as they should be. Text boxes are highlighted appropriately and using the same colors to identify certain content, e.g. Hypotheticals are in green or grey boxes, quizzes and in pink. Only navigation issues were with some of the weblinks.
Well written. No errors spotted.
The text could be more sensitive to Native American issues surrounding wetlands use and regulation. These matters will become even more prominent under the Biden Administration's focus on Environmental Justice. To that extent, perhaps a section on "Wetlands and Environmental Justice" may do the trick. Since the text delves into international wetlands law, I would suggest considering how international conventions like RAMSAR interact with indigenous peoples and women, who are often custodians of wetland habitats in other countries.
A great supplementary resource. I plan to incorporate sections into my readings for a course I teach 'Introduction to Environmental Law' (for non-lawyers) which is a core course in a Masters of Environmental and Natural Resource Policy degree. The sections on adminstrative law, s404 permits, judicial review and enforcement are particularly suitable for this course. The historical account in the text is also valuable.
This is, of course, a wetland law text. However, I would like to have seen a little more depth on wetland science. That is my bias, but I do see these two aspects of wetland studies to be tightly linked. read more
This is, of course, a wetland law text. However, I would like to have seen a little more depth on wetland science. That is my bias, but I do see these two aspects of wetland studies to be tightly linked.
This subject is fraught with potential bias. The author gives a very even overview of the field.
Wetland law is a shifting field. Always changing, especially over the last administration. It is difficult to keep up with these rapid changes. However, everything up to the last few years is VERY well covered in this book. The author uses links (mostly in lieu of references) to take the reader to sites with more details. Although this is very useful, many of the links are dead. Over the Trump administration, many of these sites were deactivated.
Well written with supportive summaries of case law.
Yes, in terms of wetland law. I spend a lot of my research on ecological assessment of wetland structure, function, and services and how these integrate into mitigation. I could see a text like this with a broader overview of this topic.
Well organized for students of wetland law.
As stated there are a few dead links. There is a teacher's guide and chapter tests, but that is only available to members of CALI https://www.cali.org/lesson/16477 which require a fee of $250.
Well written. The author should be commended on his hard work.
I believe this question does not apply. It is US law so it only covers the US. The law and science are, ideally, above race and background? Although that concept could certainly be argued.
I am very happy that I reviewed this book and I will use sections of it in my wetland classes.
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... 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
- 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.