In addition to courts and judges, my substantive area of interest is environmental law. I've been working on two pieces that discuss the failure of the federal environmental regulatory regime and suggest some alternative solutions, namely a judicial interpretive solution and a rebirth of common law jurisprudence. (If you're interested in more details, see one paper here or attend the Virginia Environmental Law Journal Symposium at UVa.)
Because the ELS Blog is always on the mind, it struck me how many empirical assumptions must be made with little or incomplete information when suggesting reforms in environmental law. (Cf. Our earlier posts about whether data can resolve theoretical debates.) For example:
- How will Congress react to broad/narrow environmental regulation? Does it matter if this is a judicial or administrative conclusion?
- What are the potential hams to the environment and public health for failure to regulate if the statute is unclear as to whether regulation is required?
- Are slow CERCLA cleanups the result of administrative failures and red tape, or responsible time-consuming science?
- Do environmental impact statements correctly predict adverse environmental consequences?
These are only a few questions. While we can point to certain case law, specific institutional reactions and case studies, I'm always in search of more data and trying to bring empiricism into environmental law. Feel free to comment if you are aware of any good data sources related to environmental law. Perhaps there are also papers outside of the legal academy (e.g., Law & Society) that empirically evaluate environmental law.