LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT SEMINAR
(LAWE-4014) - 2 UNITS
Most law students have little exposure to or understanding of local government law. Nonetheless, it is local governments that most affect Americans? lives on a daily basis throught their provision of services and regulation of the built environment. Cities and counties maintain roads and streets, create parks, remove waste and sewage, respond to emergencies, provide clean water, and educate children. They employ police officers, housing inspectors, and others that enforce laws. They determine zoning patterns that create the form of the built environment and delimit the ability of residents and business owners to build as they please. With the U.S. Conference of Mayors? unanimous adoption of the Mayors? Climate Change Agreement, many cities have also shown an interest in tackling a global environmental problem extending far beyond their borders.
This seminar will introduce basic themes in local government law, including: theoretical debates over merits of decentralization; questions about the extent of local power; perspectives on the drivers of local policies; and assessments of the forces that create urban sprawl. With this background it will turn to a consideration of local governments? role in addressing environmental problems, focusing primarily on local climate change initiatives.