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COVID-19 and Environmental Law

November 2020

Citation: 50 ELR 10881

Issue: 11

Author: Arden Rowell

The COVID-19 pandemic will have far-reaching and even transformative implications for environmental law. Although the future trajectory of the pandemic remains uncertain, it has already brought many changes to how people live, and is likely to bring many more. This Comment explores four important types of change triggered by the pandemic: (1) behavioral changes (including behaviors with environmental impacts); (2) changes in values (including regarding the environment); (3) demographic changes that affect levels of background risk against which laws (including environmental laws) operate; and (4) changing resources (including those that can be spent on environmental or other amenities). Each of these changes has potentially important implications for the assumptions built into environmental law, for the ability of environmental law to effectively regulate the environment, and for the way that humans will interact with the environment in coming years and decades.

Arden Rowell is a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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