Environmental Regulation and Enforcement

Lauren Waterworth,
Appalachian State University


This is course primarily for science majors that will introduce them to the landscape of environmental regulation and enforcement in the U.S. The course will combine lecture with class discussion and in-class presentation exercises. Students will submit short written assignments throughout the semester and will prepare a final project evaluating the history, context and outcome of a specific environmental enforcement action.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Lecture only

Institution Type:
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course Context:

This is a junior-level special topics course, aimed at students who are majoring in the sciences, e.g., Environmental Science and Geology, and who anticipate a career in industry, environmental consulting, government, or environmental and/or community advocacy. The class will have up to 40 students. This course will benefit any student who intends to work in environmental consulting, industry, government, or environmental advocacy.

Course Content:

The purpose of this course is to equip students with an understanding of environmental regulation in the U.S., from its origin as environmental policy to its application and enforcement. This course will provide students with an overview of 1) the role and responsibilities of regulators, 2) the various aspects of industry regulation (with special emphasis on the surface mining industry), and 3) aspects of environmental and safety regulation applicable to industry consultants. The course will conclude with a survey of the different mechanisms of regulatory enforcement. Throughout the course, students will be asked to consider and evaluate the varying and often competing interests of industry, regulatory agencies, and private citizens who are impacted by environmental regulation (or the lack of it).

Course Features:

For their final project, students will choose an industry or regulatory agency and an area of environmental regulation that is interesting to them. Students will work with the instructor to identify a real world example of enforcement within that industry and area of law. Students will research, summarize, and prepare a preliminary presentation of the history and background for: 1) the company/agency; 2) the applicable laws and regulations; 3) the nature of the illegal or noncompliant conduct at issue; and 4) the factual scenario and context leading up to the enforcement action. Students will then evaluate the actions of the company/agency and the outcome of enforcement, including but not limited to analysis of the following:
a. Who was impacted or harmed by the conduct requiring enforcement
b. Could the situation have been prevented and, if so, how?
c. What was the outcome of enforcement and was it effective? Why or Why not?
d. Was the enforcement fair to the affected parties?
e. What could be done to improve the outcome, prevent the need for future enforcement action, etc.?



Draft Syllabus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 147kB Apr11 13)

References and Notes: