Environmental Justice, Water Pollution, Claims to a Human Right to Drinking Water, Fracking, and Insights from an Economic Model of Regulatory Cost-Effectiveness
This week, we pivot mostly into issues involving fresh water and water pollution, but not before continuing our discussion of risk distribution by exploring further the concept of environmental justice. We start with legal approaches to transboundary shipments of waste, using both the United States and international trade as case histories, using both examples to illustrate the challenge posed to environmental law by claims of environmental racism and injustice. Shifting to drinking water, we introduce ourselves to the American Safe Drinking Water Act and to recent United Nations measures articulating a human right to drinking water, and also consider the worldwide phenomenon of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and its intersection with fresh water resources. We introduce ourselves to the technology-based regulatory design of the American Clean Water Act. In our theory session, we explore the concept of economic cost-effectiveness and its role in pollution-control regimes generally and in the Clean Water Act in particular. We also see how this concept explains some of the interest in the design of “markets” for pollution control. This is also a week in which we post a research exercise, especially relevant for those interested in obtaining a Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction.