Basics of Environmental Law


Welcome to LawShelf’s video course on the basics of environmental law. This course takes you through the federal laws and regulations that seek to protect our environment. It discusses landmark legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act and looks at how these laws are administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

This is an introductory level course and no prior knowledge of law is required.

We will start the course by looking at remedies for environmental damages that are available under the common-law and standard tort rules, few though they are. We will look at environmental lawsuits based on trespass, nuisance and negligent and strict liability tort causes of action. We will also look at anti—SLAPP laws that many states have passed to protect people who file lawsuits against big companies for environmental and other injuries.

Module two moves to air pollution control and the clean air act. We will look at the reasons behind the statute and what it covers. We’ll discuss the pollutants regulated by the act and the national ambient air quality standards, which are set by the EPA to protect the public health. We will also discuss the state, federal and cooperative regulatory structure under which air pollution controls are enforced.

Module three moves to clean water, focusing mainly on the Clean Water Act, also administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. This time, we will look at the national pollutant discharge elimination system, which regulates point sources that discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States. We will also look at wetlands protection, storm water runoff and other areas also controlled by clean water legislation.

Module four segues to a wide variety of other pieces of environmental legislation. These include the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and many others. We will look at the roles of each of these acts in the landscape of environmental regulation.

Our final module looks at the protection of public lands and wildlife, including the Endangered Species Act, wildlife protection legislation and public land conservation. We will focus specifically on the balancing tests that must be applied to ensure that economically viable use can be made of public and private lands while keeping damage to the environment minimal.

When you complete this course, you will understand the key pieces of environmental legislation and their roles in the comprehensive framework of environmental protection.

Best of luck and we welcome your feedback!


Environmental Law Under the Common Law - Module 1 of 5


Air Pollution Prevention Under the Clean Air Act - Module 2 of 5


Drinking Water and Aquatic Resource Protection - Module 3 of 5


The Regulation of Environmental Contaminants in Commerce - Module 4 of 5


The Management of Public Lands and Wildlife - Module 5 of 5

Final Exam only needs to be taken by those seeking to earn the Digital Badge credentials for this course.