Basic Environmental Law Resources

This Research Guide focuses on resources for starting out on legal research about environmental law, and for finding technical or scientific literature that may be relevant to research on environmental law and policy. The guide focuses on print and online subscription resources available at the BerkeleyLaw Library, and also mentions some freely available Internet resources. 

Getting Started

Introductory Texts

Roger W. Findley & Daniel A. Farber, Environmental Law in a Nutshell (7th ed. 2008) KF3775.Z9 F56 2008 [Patron Services]
available online via Westlaw > ENVLAW-NS (password required)

Lakshman D. Guruswamy, International Environmental Law in a Nutshell (2d ed. 2003) K3585.6 .G87 2003 [Patron Services]
available online via Westlaw > INTENVL-NS (password required)

Philip Weinberg & Kevin A. Reilly, Understanding Environmental Law (2d ed. 2007) KF3775 .W45 2007 [Patron Services]

To find other titles of introdutory material, try searching LawCat

  • advanced search for key words from topic ("land use" or "hazardous waste")
  • limit Location to "Patron Services"

Reference Texts

Environmental Law Institute, Environmental Law Deskbook (8th ed. 2007) KF3775 .E47 [Patron Services]
available online via ELR > Federal Material > Statutes and Statutory Outlines > statutes available in "Full" (on campus or proxy server access required)

Environmental Law Handbook (19th ed. 2007) KF3775.A75 E594 [Patron Services]

Research Guides & Bibliographies

The books and other materials listed in the following resources may be found at many libraries. Get author, title and edition information and use to search LawCat, Melvyl or other library catalogs.

Nathan Block, Environmental Law and Land Use Planning, in Specialized Legal Research (Penny A. Hazelton, gen. ed., 2008) KF240 .S641 [Reference]

  • general overview of overlapping legal systems involved in environmental legal research
  • lists print & electronic resources, includes tips on finding technical &scientific materials

Golden Gate University Law Library's Environmental Law Resources guide

Vermont Law School Library's Environmental Law Research Guide (focuses on free websites, selected in consultation with VLS faculty and students)

Georgetown Law Library's Treatise Finder (arranged by topic - Environmental Law or International Environment and Development)

In-Depth Analysis

Leading Treatises

William H. Rodgers, Jr., Environmental Law (1986 & Supp. 2008) KF3775 .R59 1986 [Patron Services]
available online via Westlaw > ENVLAW (password required)

  • overview, theoretical framework
  • air & water, pesticides & toxics, hazardous wastes

Frank P. Grad, Treatise on Environmental Law (1999, updated)
available online via Lexis > Legal > Area of Law - By Topic > Environment > Search Analysis, Law Reviews & Journals > Treatise on Environmental Law (password required)

  • superseded edition (1973, updated through 1995) in print, KF3775 .G72 [Stacks]

Selected California & State Practice Guides

Daniel P. Selmi & Kenneth A. Manaster, State Environmental Law (2001, updated)
available online via Westlaw > STENVNL (password required)

  • hazardous waste, air & water pollution, environmental policy acts
  • discusses common law, state regulations & enforcement, federal/state relationship, and litigation issues
  • also at Hastings Law Library, KF3775 .Z95 S452

Kenneth A. Manaster & Daniel P. Selmi, California Evironmental Law and Land Use Practice (1989, updated) KFC610.A6 C34 [Patron Services]
available online via Lexis > Legal > Area of Law - By Topic > Environment > Search Analysis, Law Reviews & Journals > California Environmental Law & Land Use Practice (password required)

Ronald Robie et al., California Civil Practice: Environmental Litigation (2002, updated) KFC995 .C352 [Patron Services]
available online via Westlaw > CCPENV (password required)

  • toxic torts, Superfund, Prop. 65, insurance coverage, citizen suits, regulatory proceedings, and CEQA
  • forms & procedural checklists; topic overviews & practice notes

Stephen L. Kostka & Michael H. Zischke, Practice Under the California Environmental Quality Act (2d ed. 2008, updated) KFC610 .K672 [Patron Services]
available online via OnLaw > Real Property > Practice Under the California Environmental Quality Act (on campus or proxy server access required)

James Longtin, Longtin's California Land Use: Planning, Zoning, Building, Subdivision, Environmental Law (1987, updated) KFC811 .L65 1987 [Patron Services]

Finding Other State Sources

State Practice Materials: Annotated Bibliographies (Frank G. Houdek, gen. ed., 2002, updated) KF1 .S72 [BSR]

  • state-by-state guidance, prepared by law librarians, on legal research sources
  • includes some topical materials (depending on availability)
  • (not all states are filled in yet)

Subject Compilations of State Laws (1960-current) KF240 .F67 [Stacks & Reference Desk]
available online via Hein Online > Subject Compilations of State Laws (on campus or proxy server access required)

  • articles, books, and other materials that survey state statutory or case law
  • search by main subject or other subjects covered
  • provides citation and description of content

Selected International Sources

William H. Rodgers, Jr., Environmental Law in Indian Country (2005, updated) KF8210.N37 R63 2005 [Patron Services]
available online via Westlaw > ENVIND (password required)

Alexandre Kiss & Dinah Shelton, Guide to International Environmental Law (2007) K3585 .K5695 2007 [Stacks]

Philippe Sands, Principles of International Environmental Law (2d ed. 2003) K3585 .S265 2003 [Stacks]

Books on Environmental Law

On LawCat, search for treatises & practice materials:

  • advanced search for broad topical key words ("environmental law" and California)
  • limit Location to "Patron Services"
  • and/or include key word "forms" (for practice forms)
  • and/or limit Material Type to "Loose-Leaf"

On Lawcat or other academic law library catalog, try the following Library of Congress system subject headings:

  • Environmental law -- [geographic area]
  • Environmental mediation            
  • Environmental monitoring -- Law and legislation             
  • Biodiversity conservation -- Law and legislation              
  • Carbon dioxide mitigation -- Law and legislation             
  • Coastal zone management -- Law and legislation
  • Emissions trading -- Law and legislation             
  • Environmental impact charges -- Law and legislation       
  • Global warming -- Law and legislation
  • several other related or narrower subjects - if you search for "Environmental law" as a subject heading in LawCat, you can click on the link to see a list of "Related Subjects"

To any of the above Library of Congress subject headings, you may narrow your search to books about a given geographic area, for example:

  • -- Asia
  • -- European Union countries
  • -- United States -- States [for multijurisdictional works on state law]
  • -- West (U.S.)
  • -- Arizona

Articles on Environmental Law

To find articles on environmental law topics, consider using topical journal databases (such as those available on Westlaw and Lexis) to focus your literature search, but remember that good articles on environmental issues may be published in general interest legal journals.

Because coverage varies on Westlaw and Lexis, but in both cases usually does not go back to volume 1, a comprehensive literature should include index searching to identify articles which can then be accessed in full text using an archive like Hein Online's law journal database, or can be found in print.  Note that indexes:

  • allow you to find older articles, which can provide excellent background on statutes enacted in 1970s
  • help you avoid wasted time sorting through irrelevant, casual mentions of search terms - indexes are designed to find citations to articles that are about your topic (rather than articles that may simply mention search terms in passing)
  • search for limited information - author, title, subject headings, and in some cases article abstracts - not full text

Full-Text Journal Databases

  • Topical focus: Lexis > Secondary Legal > Law Reviews & Journals > Law Reviews by Area of Law > Environmental Law Review Articles, Combined (password required)
  • Topical focus: Westlaw > Directory > Topical Materials by Area of Practice > Environmental Law > Law Reviews, Legal Texts & Periodicals > Law Reviews, Texts & Bar Journals Combined > ENV-TP (password required)
  • General interest: Lexis > Secondary Legal > Law Reviews & Journals > US Law Reviews and Journals, Combined (password required)
  • General interest: Westlaw > JLR (password required)
  • General interest: Hein Online > Law Journal Library (on campus or proxy server access required)

Law Journal Indexes

  • Index to Legal Periodicals & Books (1918-current) (on campus or proxy server access required)
  • Legal Trac (1981-current) (on campus or proxy server access required)
  • Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (1985-current) (on campus or proxy server access required)
  • Use Hein Online's citation navigator to locate full text of many of the articles found in the above indexes

Technical & Scientific Information

For books and similar materials from any of the libraries in the entire UC system, use Melvyl to search for and request interlibrary loan.

For articles on non-legal topics related to environmental law research, try UCB's subscription databses as listed in the Electronic Resources by Subject for the related academic discipline(s):

Many scientific and technical books, reports, and other materials are available at regional EPA libraries. BerkeleyLaw Library does not have a loan arrangement with the EPA Library for Region 9 (in San Francisco), but it is the San Francisco branch is open to the public. You can explore any of the EPA libraries' holdings through the its National Library Network's shared library catalog, OLS:

  • search the holdings of all of the EPA's regional and specialty libraries (list)
  • search can be limited to specific locations
  • open to the public, and some have secondary legal research materials as well as scientific and technical reports and information
  • search by key words, LC subject headings, author, or title

Congressional Research Services reports can be a valuable source of technical and scientific information relied upon by legislators in making policy decisions. Selected reports, mostly from recent years, are available at three freely available web sites, but are not full-text searchable:

In addition, many reports, going back to 1916, are full-text searchable using ProQuest Congressional > Advanced Search (on campus or proxy server access required). To search for CRS reports only:

  • in the area for "Search Within," click on "Clear All" and check only the box for "CRS Reports"
  • remember to set date restrictions if needed - default is to search only the past two years

Legislative History of Environmental Laws

Information about the legislative intent of environmental laws can sometimes be found in the legislative history (bill drafting history, legislative committee hearing testimony, legislative debate, etc.) of the law. The documents constituting this history have already been compiled - either in full-text reproductions of the legislative documents, or as a list of citations to relevant pieces of the history - for many important environmental laws, particularly the major federal legal schemes. Before attempting to create your own legislative history of a law, you should check if one has already been compiled.

Step 1: Find Existing Compiled History

Nancy P. Johnson (compiler), Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories: A Bibliography of Government Documents, Periodical Articles, and Books, 1st Congress-94th Congress (1979, updated) KF42.2 1979 [Reference]

  • annotated bibliography lists compiled federal legislative histories, notes whether reprints, analysis, and/or other information is included in compilation
  • organized by Public Law number

Bernard D. Reams, Jr. (compiler), Federal Legislative Histories: An Annotated Bibliography and Index to Officially Published Sources (1994) KF42.2 1994 [Reference]

United States Code, Congressional & Administrative News (Legislative Histories) KF48 .U55 [Main Reading Room]
available online via Westlaw > USCCAN (password required)

Congressional Information Service, CIS Annual (Legislative Histories) KF49 .C62 [Main Reading Room]
available online via ProQuest Congressional > Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws (on campus or proxy server access required)

On LawCat try a key word search using the following pattern: "clean water act AND legislative history"

Step 2: Supplement a Compilation, or Build from Scratch

Research guides are published by many law libraries providing guidance on locating documents relevant to legislative intent. For guides keyed to the BerkeleyLaw Library (the following guides also all include links to free online sources where available), see:

Multi-State Surveys

Subject Compilations of State Laws (1960-current) KF240 .F67 [Reference & Stacks]
available online via Hein Online > Subject Compilations of State Laws (on campus or proxy server access required)

  • annotated bibliography of articles, reports and books with multi-state survey or topical legal analysis
  • subject headings include "Environmental Protection," "Environmental Impact Statements," and "Endangered Species"
  • Hein Online version allows single search through all annual volumes

National Conference of State Legislatures (on the "Issue Areas" tab, topics include "Energy," "Environmental Protection," and  "Natural Resources")

Lexis and Westlaw also feature multi-state surveys:

  • Lexis > Legislation & Politics - U.S. & U.K. > LexisNexis 50 State Surveys, Legislation & Regulations (password required)
  • Westlaw > SURVEYS (password required)
  • for tips on use and searching, try contacting Lexis or Westlaw search assistance
  • for discussion of these sources, see "Update on State Statutory Research" in the 2006-2007 volume of Subject Compilations of State Laws (above)

Foreign Environmental Laws

For more detailed guidance, you may want to start with a research guide such as Intro to International & Foreign Legal Research, which lists many other guides and free online sites (where available) for researching foreign law. Just a few resources to start with are discussed below.

Thomas H. Reynolds & Arturo A Flores, Foreign Law: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World (1989, updated) K38 .R49 [Reference]; available online via Foreign Law Guide (on campus or proxy server access required)

  • updated and maintained by Boalt Hall librarian specializing in comparative law
  • designed for American lawyers researching unfamiliar jurisdictions, gives country by country guidance with overview of legal structure, sources of official and unofficial legal publications, including translated primary materials where available
  • for each country, specific laws and sources relevant may be listed under the subject heading "Environmental Protection" if information is available

World Legal Information Institute

  • focuses on freely accessible legal information
  • country-by-country, topical listings of web sites and other sources for governmental and legal structure, as well as primary documents
  • quality and currency vary

Last edited by I-Wei Wang, 7 April 2011