In the early 1970s, I told my stepfather, a distinguished judge on the Maryland Court of Appeals, that I wanted to go to law school to study environmental law. He thought that was a silly idea. There wasn’t—and wouldn’t be—a separate field of environmental law. If I wanted to study administrative law with an emphasis on environmental applications, fine. But I was deluding myself to think there would be a new domain of law defined by the environmental issues of the day.

In a way he was wrong. I went to law school, took what scant environmental offerings there were at the time, and have spent the rest of my life practicing, teaching, and writing about what we’ve come comfortably to understand as environmental law. That law stems mostly from legislation enacted from the late 1960s through 1990 addressing environmental concerns such as water and air pollution, waste disposal, species loss, and chemical safety. Environmental law also conventionally includes public land managemente.g., legal regimes for wilderness, parks, forests, grazing lands.

Jonathan Z. Cannon, Environmental Law Futures, Vibrant Environmental Blog (March 15, 2019).