At the University of Tokyo on July 9, Professor Richard Lazarus spoke before an audience of Japanese Supreme Court Justices, University of Tokyo law faculty and students, and the Chief Justice of the United States. Professor Lazarus described the present state of U.S. environmental law, highlighting both its successes and its current challenges.
“Just as our economies are increasingly intertwined and interdependent within global markets, so too are our environmental laws inevitably intertwined in their application to global natural resources upon which we all depend,” Professor Lazarus said. “The relevance of each of our nation’s respective environmental laws, however, is not limited to shared natural resources. There are also ripe opportunities for environmental lawmakers within each of our nations to learn from the experiences of the others in addressing environmental problems occurring exclusively within our respective borders: from our successes and from our lapses as well.”
Professor Lazarus’s talk focused on the history of U.S. environmental law, highlighting the prominent role played by our Congress, beginning in the 1970s, in passing an extraordinary series of highly demanding and ambitious pollution control and natural resource conservation laws that have persisted now for decades. He also discussed the absence of necessary environmental lawmaking within the United States during the past 25 years has hampered current efforts to address global climate change.