Publications: Environmental Law

The National Agricultural Law Center’s Endangered Species Act Manual: A Practical Guide to the ESA for Agricultural Producers

Brigit Rollins Staff Attorney National Agricultural Law Center

This manual will provide an in-depth look at the ESA by examining the text of the statute, its implementing regulations, and case law that has impacted how the ESA is carried out. Additionally, this manual will provide a thorough discussion on how the ESA impacts private landowners and will explore the various ESA programs available to private landowners. Finally, this manual will conclude by discussing some real-life examples of how the ESA affects agriculture, and how agricultural producers can be critical to achieving the statute’s conservation goals. Download this manual. Posted April 6, 2023

Environmental Law: Federal Laws That Affect Agriculture – PowerPoint Presentation

Elizabeth R. Springsteen Staff Attorney National Agricultural Law Center

This presentation was given on April 23, 2009 as a guest lecture to undergraduate students enrolled in the Agricultural Law course offered by the University of Arkansas Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.  Environmental laws that are important to individuals involved in agriculture are introduced and briefly outlined, including Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, FIFRA, Endangered Species Act and CERCLA, as well as several conservation programs. Download this presentation. Posted: May 13, 2009

2005 Environmental Law Update

Theodore A. Feitshans Extension Specialist and Lecturer North Carolina State University

This article examines several significant developments from 2005 regarding the application of environmental laws to agricultural production and processing. The article discusses, among other items, air quality concerns related to animal feeding operations, water use issues, and recent developments under the Clean Water Act related to National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits. In addition, the article examines developments regarding wetlands protection, eminent domain and takings, concentrated animal feeding operations, and the application of pesticides to surface waters    Download this article Posted: July 17, 2006

Managing Carbon in a World Economy: The Role of American Agriculture

Kelly Connelly Garry University of South Dakota School of Law

Climatic change is one of the most challenging environmental concerns faced by the world.  Carbon sequestration offers an optimistic approach to curb the effects of climatic change until a more permanent solution is discovered and implemented.  Presently, carbon sequestration is the most practical response to global warming.  It has been known for decades that carbon sequestration can assist in decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but the difficulty lies with the incorporation of carbon sequestration into programs that will encourage sufficient participation to make it worthwhile.  This article outlines the role American agriculture can play in managing carbon in a world economy.    Download this article Posted: November 12, 2005

Biodiversity and Law: The Culture of Agriculture and the Nature of Nature Conservation

John S. Harbison Staff Attorney The National AgLawCenter

About nine thousand years ago, beneath the Karacadag Mountains of southeastern Turkey, a small group of people, over a short period of time, made the most momentous and consequential revolution in human history.  They triggered the evolution of agriculture.  Every subsequent step along the road of human civilization is based on that moment.  It has been called “the most important advance that mankind has ever made since it developed the powers of speech, conscious thought and firemaking” and “the worst mistake in the history of the human race.”  Opinions differ.  Agriculture involves the intentional modification of ecosystems so that they produce plants and animals that would not occur naturally in either the same form or quantity. Agriculture has given us the food surpluses that have permitted the florescence of human culture but also the destruction of forests, the exhaustion, erosion and salinization of soils, the eutrophication and poisoning of lakes and streams, and the drainage of wetlands.  It has caused the extinction of species and has contributed to their diversity.  In our times we are witnesses to the fifth great episode of extinction in the 600-million-year history of life on earth and the first in which humanity is the primary agent.  This article-the first in a forthcoming series-is about the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches to the conservation of biodiversity in the developed world-or at least in a significant part of it-from the perspective of law and policy.  By contrasting efforts in Great Britain and the United States to deal with biodiversity loss, lessons to be learned from these countries’ quite different approaches will be identified, beginning some premises that do not require extensive elaboration.   Download this article. Posted Feb. 12, 2004.

Biodiversity and the Law of Nature Conservation in Great Britain

John S. Harbison Staff Attorney The National AgLawCenter

The British have a well-deserved reputation for their love of birds and for being avid birdwatchers.  Indeed, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, with more than one million members, is probably the most influential conservation organization in the country.  So it is not surprising that the editors of THE ECONOMIST, the leading weekly newsmagazine in Great Britain, recently lamented drastically declining numbers of British farmland birds.  The magazine reported, for example, that corn bunting numbers are down by 41%, grey partridges by 18%, skylarks (established favourite of English poets) by 14%, and yellowhammers by 13% in just the last decade.  These declines are attributed to a single change in British farming practices: sowing grain and rapeseed in the autumn and winter rather than the spring.  The result is less grain lying in farmers’ fields for birds to eat and consequently fewer birds.  What may be surprising is THE ECONOMIST’S suggestion for fixing this problem.  The magazine, with a longstanding and global disdain for government subsidies, especially in agriculture, suggests that the only remedy is to pay British farmers “to let more fields and field margins lie fallow” in the fall.  That recommendation, in a nutshell, is a main topic of this article.    Download this article. Posted Mar. 9, 2004