Ernest E. Smith


Environmental issues have transformed the areas of law that I have taught for the last thirty-one years. A decade ago environmental law went virtually unmentioned in courses in property, domestic oil and gas law, and international transactions. By 1995 environmental concerns had moved from the periphery to center stage in these legal fields. To someone who teaches and writes about these subjects, the clearest manifestation of this development has been that virtually every first-year property casebook, mining or oil and gas law casebook, and international business transactions casebook, written in the last five years now includes segments on environmental law. In many older casebooks that have been revised within this period, environmental coverage frequently has appeared for the first time. But correspondingly, as environmental law and regulations have assumed greater importance, resistance and opposition to them also have increased. One form of that opposition has come from analogous theoretical sources: absolutist claims of freedom from external interference in making decisions within one's own territory. Domestically, the opposition has been based on constitutional protection of property rights; internationally, it has been based on protection and vindication of national sovereignty. To both practicing lawyers and academic theoreticians, these parallel developments will present some of the most significant environmental issues of the decade -- within our nation and beyond.

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