Environmental Law

Article excerpt

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, THE ECONOMY, AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: THE UNITED STATES, THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, edited by Richard L. Revesz, Philippe Sand, and Richard B. Stewart. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-521-64270-1. 437 pages, notes, index. (Cloth)

DAVID G. VICTOR; THE COLLAPSE OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL AND THE STRUGGLE TO SLOW GLOBAL WARMING. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-691-08870-5. 178 pages, notes, works cited, index. (Cloth)

RONIE GARCIA-JOHNSON; EXPORTING ENVIRONMENTALISM: U. S. MULTINATIONAL CHEMICAL CORPORATIONS IN BRAZIL AND MEXICO. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press, 2000. ISBN 0-262-57136-6. 200 pages, appendixes, notes, references, index. (Cloth) (Paper).

An important issue facing environmental law today is the appropriate allocation of responsibility for addressing environmental problems at different levels of decision-making in a multi-jurisdictional system. The thirteen essays found in Environmental Law, the Economy, and Sustainable Development are the product of a colloquium on comparative and international environmental law at New York University's Villa La Pietra in Florence. Focused on the United States, the European Union, and the international community, the authors provide a comparative analysis of environmental regulation in multi-jurisdictional systems together with related issues.

Each of the three systems addressed differs significantly in cultural, economic, institutional, legal, and political terms, but all share structural similarities and address related issues in instituting measures to protect the environment while simultaneously promoting economic growth. Moreover, each system addresses environmental interdependencies that transcend their component constituencies--states in the United States, member states in the European Union, and nations in the case of the international community. These transjurisdictional questions vary from cross border issues, like acid deposition or water pollution on the one hand, to global problems, such as ozone depletion and climate change on the other.

There can be no doubt, as Richard B. Stewart points out in the introduction, that economic and environmental interdependencies, trade flows, and capital mobility have important implications for environmental regulation in multi-jurisdictional settings. Industrial firms face intense competition on national, regional, and international levels; consequently, they are deeply and rightly concerned about the costs imposed on production methods and processes by stringent environmental regulations. Afraid the cost of compliance with tough environmental standards will disadvantage companies vis-a-vis competitors, industrialists and environmentalists alike worry that a "race to the bottom" in regulation can result. The U.S. chemical industry has proved something of an exception in this regard, as Ronie Garcia-Johnson has pointed out, as it has often exported environmentalism to associated industries and firms around the world.

The essays in Environmental Law, the Economy, and Sustainable Development focus on six related but distinct clusters of regulatory concerns. First, contributors address the question of where decision-making responsibility for environmental regulation should reside in a multi-jurisdictional system. A second cluster of issues centers on the appropriate structure for decision-making institutions as well as the procedures necessary for developing legal rules governing the regulation of environmental risks. Third, contributors explore issues surrounding the selection of regulatory instruments for environmental protection.

The relationship between trade measures and environmental protection constitutes a fourth set of issues examined. The fifth cluster of issues deals with risk assessment and risk management. Finally, the contributors employ a wide variety of methodological approaches to analyze environmental regulation in multi-jurisdictional settings. …