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Volume 28, Issue 12 — December 1998


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Fiscal Year 1998 in Review

by Rachel L. Schowalter

Editors' Summary: Every year, EPA faces the burdensome task of issuing hundreds of rules and regulations. From air and water quality issues to hazardous and solid waste management, from environmental justice to the protection of natural resources, no aspect of environmental law goes untouched by EPA. Given the highly regulated nature of environmental law and policy, the Agency's actions are often controversial. The fiscal year that ended September 30, 1998, was no different. This Comment reviews the most significant rules, proposed rules, and guidance documents the Agency issued during fiscal year 1998. Looking at EPA's major accomplishments over the past year helps identify some of the work the Agency must focus on in fiscal year 1999 and in the years to come.


The Endangered Species Act and Private Land: Four Lessons Learned from the Past Quarter Century

by Michael J. Bean

Editors' Summary: Twenty-five years ago, Congress enacted the ESA with the goal of conserving endangered and threatened species, as well as the ecosystems on which they depend. How successful the Act has been in achieving that goal has been the subject of much controversy. This Dialogue assesses the Act's success by examining one aspect of its history — the experience that has resulted from applying its provisions to private land. From this assessment, the author determines that there are four lessons that can be learned. First, limitations on the Act's prohibition on "taking" protected species indicate that this provision alone cannot effectively address many of the most serious threats to these species. Second, the prohibition has prompted many landowners to modify their land in order to prevent the application of the Act to their property. Third, positive incentives can encourage private landowners to take steps to benefit protected species. And fourth, the Act's habitat conservation planning provisions can be used creatively to benefit species located on private land.

The State of Environmental Law Enforcement: A Speech Presented at the American Bar Association's 1998 Annual Meeting

by Nicholas C. Yost

Editors' Summary: At the 1998 Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association, a panel convened by the Environmental Law Institute considered whether enforcement of environmental laws is declining. In his presentation as a member of that panel, the author of this Dialogue concluded that, overall, it is not.

This Dialogue contains the text of that presentation. It begins with a summary of statistics from EPA's Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Accomplishments Report for fiscal year 1997. It then discusses enforcement-related developments in different regions of the country, and examines the perceptions of experienced practitioners in those regions. Finally, it explores some enforcement-related changes that have occurred in the practice of environmental law, and considers the opportunities that these changes have created for improving environmental quality.