• Prof. Lamdan

Class 2: Why We Regulate the Environment

Read before Thursday, August 29


What happens when we communities don't protect common resources?

Here are our readings for Class 2:

Here is our video for Class 2:


Before we start talking about the elements of administrative law and public institutions, let's take a step back and consider why we regulate the environment at all. We'll also look at some of the ways we regulate the environment in our administrative law system. (Or, in the case of our current administration, how we deregulate, rolling back environmental protections.)


In our first class, we talked about how environmental regulation relates to social justice. We saw that regulating the environment promotes health and equality and prevents our planet from melting, which is kind of a big deal. We also saw that environmental harm tends to disparately impact communities of color and people who are poor. Environmental regulation, even at the best of times, often fails to address these disparate impacts. Something we'll think about today is how to ensure that environmental protections benefit everyone and do not leave some communities in harm's way.

Humans create waste, just by living our human lives. Where we put that waste matters.

If you're interested in digging deeper into the topic of environmental justice and disparate impacts of environmental harm, environmental scholars have written about some of core concepts we'll discuss in class:

  • NIMBY-ism and Environmental Justice: The phenomenon where people with wealth and power say "Not in my back yard!" when governments are deciding where to locate environmentally hazardous plants (electrical plants, waste disposal, etc.) in communities.

  • Tragedy of the Commons & White Nationalism: We will discuss the concept of Tragedy of the Commons in class. While the Tragedy concept is a common way to illustrate the need for environmental regulation, Tragedy of the Commons and other environmental concepts are also used to promote white nationalism. Garrett Hardin, who coined the tragedy of the commons concept was also a forefather of the ecofascism movement, which incorporates environmental preservation into white nationalism.

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