ResearchWire - Environmental Law on the WebBy Diana Botluk, Published on April 1, 1999
Diana Botluk is an online legal information professional who lectures, teaches and writes about finding law-related information in an online environment. She is the author of The Legal List: Research on the Internet, and a columnist for Internet Law Researcher newsletter, with a column called Finding Information on the World Wide Web. She teaches basic, advanced and online legal research at the University of Maryland, and Internet classes at CAPCON Library Network. She has lectured at many professional conferences, is actively involved in the Law Librarians Society of D.C. and the American Association of Law Libraries. She is a reference librarian at Catholic University Law School, where she earned her J.D. in 1984.
There is no scarcity of resources when it comes to environmental law information on the world wide web. As a matter of fact, there is so much about this topic out there on the Internet, that it might be hard to narrow down where to begin. There are many great environmental law sites, and this article will highlight some of the best.
The first stop in environmental law research will undoubtedly be the Environmental Protection Agency website. Packed full of information for everyone, including those practicing environmental law, as well as citizens interested in environmental protection, this site offers a variety of publications and documents. One quick click from the home page arrives at a menu of EPA publications sources, providing access to collections of full text electronic documents through NEPIS (National Environmental Publications Internet Site); or records of other documents available for free from EPA through NSCEP (National Service Center for Environmental Publications).
Another click from the home page provides an online menu of federal statutes and regulations concerning environmental protection. New and proposed rules from the Federal Register, codified regulations from the C.F.R., proposed federal legislation, and federal legislation in force can all be linked to from this page.
Environmental data, facts and statistics can all be accessed from the Databases & Software part of the site. Here researchers can find information about EPA test methods, and models used to increase the level of understanding about natural systems. This page also links to the Envirofacts Warehouse, an information system that provides a single point of access to EPA data, and to the Center for Environmental Information and Statistics, providing integrated information on environmental quality, status and trends.
Other documents that can be found at the EPA web site include policy statements, budget information, and directory information for the agency. There is also a page that links to other federal agency environmental resources, and state, local and tribal online environmental networks and information.
Other Government Agencies
Many other federal agencies have an environmental focus, at least in part, and much of the information they have to offer can be found on the world wide web. Take a look at some of these: Department of Defense Environmental Resources, Department of Energy Environmental Management, Department of the Navy Environmental Program, Department of the Interior, U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Of course, environmental law cannot only be viewed on a national scope. There are international organizations whose main focus is environmental law, and many of these organizations can be found on the web, along with documents they might produce. One such organization is the United Nations Environment Programme, where researchers can find the text of environment related conventions, as well as information about the conventions. Researchers can look at a special web database called ENTRI for the text of international treaties regarding environmental issues.
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation was created by the North American Agreement for Environmental Cooperation and its members include Canada, Mexico and the United States. It addresses regional environmental concerns, helps prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts and promotes the effective enforcement of environmental law. Its website presents information about environmental law in those three countries, as well as the texts of environmental agreements.
For links to environmental laws from all over the world, try starting at a page called Environmental Laws Around the World provided by IGC/EcoNet and ELAW-Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide. This site lists the world's countries, then links to pages containing each country's environmental laws.
State Laws and State Agencies
Besides looking at federal and international law, researchers may have the need to review state laws or contact state agencies concerning the environment. Linkable lists of state environmental agencies can be found at the National Association of State Information Resource Executives and clay.net. In general, full text state statutes can be linked to from MultiState Associates, Inc. and Full Text State Statutes and Legislation on the Internet. General links to state regulations can be found at Administrative Codes and Registers: INTERNET ACCESS TO ADMINISTRATIVE RULES. And of course, both legislation and regulations can be linked to from American Law Sources Online.
Online Legal Journals and Periodicals
To keep up with the latest issues in the environmental law field there are many online legal journals and periodicals with a focus on the environment. Some of these are the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum, the New York University Environmental Law Journal, and the Villanova Environmental Law Journal. For a complete list of online legal periodicals with an environmental focus, check Findlaw.
For researchers who have a frequent need to access environmental law on the Internet, it's good to have an all-in-one place to start. The Environmental Law Net, by David Blackmar, Esq., from Holland & Knight, is an excellent site that brings links to many online resources together for the environmental law practitioner. From this site you can quickly access legislation, regulations, court and agency decisions, agency documents and databases, compliance information, enforcement and litigation resources, and property and business transaction information. It also provides environmental law news, an desk reference page, conference and event information, an online forum, and more.
Clay.net is another good starting point. In its own words it is a "quick-load, no-nonsense work platform for rapid information retrieval designed specifically for environmental consultants and remediation professionals." All you see on the first page are eight quick links: Government Agencies, Federal; Government Agencies, State; Regulations References, Federal; Health and Safety Issues; Professional Associations; Conferences Bulletins, Announcements; The EP Virtual Desktop; Legislation, Federal; Search Engines; and EPA-ERTP Training Courses. But these links pack a punch and can quickly take you where you need to go.
Pace University School of Law
Pace University School of Law has provided environmental law researchers with a handy web site called the Pace Virtual Environmental Law Library. This site provides links to online laws from the state, federal and international level, as well as foreign environmental laws. Researchers can also choose to approach their research from a topical focus, with links to topics such as air pollution control and hazardous substances. In addition, there is an archive of audio files of lectures concerning environmental law topics. While some of this web site is rather outdated, it still can be a good starting point for environmental law researchers.
Earth Day is April 22! Please visit the earthday.org website for more information about Earth Day.