Local Environmental Law Tools

Written by: Bridgit Eichinger, Robyn Hanson, Justin Kimple, Megan Smith, and Jessica Steinberg, Student Associates, Land Use Law Center

Local Environmental Law is a developing field of law and practice. As increasing pressures are placed on the environment at a local level, communities need additional tools to ensure progress while upholding values of environmental preservation and conservation. The Land Use Law Center has discovered that local governments throughout the country have adopted environmental standards in a number of contexts and this trend is largely unknown, unevaluated, and unappreciated. Although there is a growing awareness of this field in legal literature and practice guidance documents, a comprehensive understanding of local environmental law is far from complete. In recent years, municipalities have included environmental provisions in their comprehensive plans; traditional land use regulations, such as zoning, subdivision, and site plan regulations; and a variety of innovative laws that protect environmental resources and prevent environmental degradation. The Center's training program now includes an emphasis on local environmental law. The Center has compiled a chart that offers techniques to protect natural resources at the local level

How to Use The Local Environmental Law Site

This section of the Land Use Law Center’s website contains information gathered about local environmental law. It includes helpful resources for municipal leaders and individuals seeking a broad overview of how local laws and land use planning techniques can further their environmental goals.

A plethora of resources exist in the field of local environmental law

  • The Land Use Law Center contains many books, articles, and statutes.
  • The Land Use Law Center has published its own series of books.
  • There are also numerous external resources on local environmental law.

This site also contains an updated list of constitutional provisions, statutes, rulings, and case law about local environmental law.

The community profile for the Town of Clinton demonstrates how a town can use local environmental laws for preservation and future growth.

Internal Local Environmental Law Resources

Legal Textbooks/Statutes/Law Reviews/Papers

  • Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research: Volume 2, No. 3, September 1996 – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Contracts: Environmental Cases and Materials- by Elizabeth Glass Geltman, the Michie Co., 1994
  • Energy Law and Sustainable Development- edited by Adrian J. Bradbrook and Richard L. Ottinger, IUCN Environmental Policy and Law Paper No. 47, 2003
  • Environmental Law- by Jeffrey Gaba, West Group 2001
  • Environmental Law, 4th Ed.- by Frank P. Grad and Joel A. Mintz, Lexis Publishing, 2000.
  • Environmental Law: Cases and Materials, 2nd Ed.- by Willam Murray Tabb and Linda A. Malone, Contemporary Legal Education Series, 1997
  • Environmental Law: Cases and Materials, 6th Ed.- by Roger W. Findley et al., Thompson-West, 2003
  • Environmental Law From Resources to Recovery- by Celia Campbell-Mohn et al., West Publishing Co., 1993
  • Environmental Law and Policy- by James Salzman and Barton H. Thompson, Jr., Foundation Press, 2003
  • Environmental Law and Policy, 2nd Edition- by Richard Stewart and James Krier, The Bobbs-Merill Co., 1978
  • Environmental Law and Policy: Cases and Materials- by Eva H. Hanks et al., West Publishing Co., 1974
  • Environmental Law and Policy: Statutory and Regulatory Supplement- by Richard L. Revesz, Foundation Press, 2002
  • Environmental Law: Selected Statutes and Regulations, 1997 Ed.- by William Murray Tabb and Linda A. Malone, Lexis Law Publishing, 1997
  • Environmental Planning: Law of Land and Resources- by Arnold W. Reitze Jr., North American International, 1974
  • Environmental Policy Law: Problems, Cases, and Readings, 4th Ed.- by Thomas J. Schoenbaum et al., Foundation Press, 2002
  • Environmental Regulation: Law, Science, and Policy- by Robert V. Percival et al., Little, Brown & Co., 1992
  • Federal Environmental Law The User’s Guide- by Olga L. Moya, West Group, 2001
  • Federal Wildlife Statutes: Text & Contexts- by Dale D. Goble and Eric T. Freyfogle, Foundation Press, 2002
  • International Environmental Law and Policy, 2nd Ed.- by David Hunter et al., Foundation Press, 2002
  • International Environmental Law and Policy: Treaty Supplement- by David Hunter et al., Foundation Press, 2002.
  • Land Finance Law – by George Lefcoe, The Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1969
  • Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review – April 1994, Volume 27, No. 3
  • Natural Resources Cases and Materials- by Barlow Burke, Anderson Publishing Co., 1998
  • Natural Resources Law: Hornbook Series-by Jan G. Laitos, West Group, 2002
  • Pace Environmental Law Review- Summer 2000, Volume 17, No. 2
  • Pace Environmental Law Review: Lloyd K. Garrison Lecture Special Edition, 2002, Volume 19, No. 2
  • Selected Environmental Law Statutes- West Group 2002
  • Selected Environmental Law Statutes – Thompson-West 2003-2004 Ed.
  • University of Richmond Law Review- October 1996, Volume 30, No. 4
  • Wildlife Law: Cases and Materials- by Dale D. Goble and Eric T. Freyfogle, Foundation Press, 2002


General Environmental Issues

  • Biological Science- by William Keeton, W.W. Norton & Co., 1972
  • ** The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism- by Adam Rome, Cambridge University Press 2001 **
  • Cities on a Hill: A Journey Through Contemporary American Cultures- by Frances Fitzgerald, Simon and Schuster, 1986
  • Climate Change Impacts on the United States- by U.S. Global Change Research Program, Cambridge University Press, 2000
  • The Diversity of Life- by Edward O. Wilson, W.W. Norton & Co., 1992
  • Growth Policy: Population, Environment and Beyond- by Kan Chen et al., University of Michigan Press, 1974
  • Earth and Spirit: The Spiritual Dimension of the Environmental Crisis- edited by Fritz Hull, the Continuum Publishing Co., 1993.
  • Environmental Costs of Electricity- Pace University Center for Environmental Legal Studies, Oceana Publications, 1990
  • Environmental Science: An Introduction- by G. Tyler Miller Jr., Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1988
  • Environmental Science: Managing Biological and Physical Resources- by Michael D. Morgan et al., WCB, 1993
  • Greening the Americas: NAFTA’s Lessons for Hemispheric Trade- edited Carolyn L. Deere and Daniel C. Stesty, MIT Press, 2002
  • ** Historic American Towns Along the Atlantic Coast- by Warren Boeschenstein, The John Hopkins University Press, 1999 **
  • Important Bird Areas in New York State- compiled by J. V. Wells, National Audubon Society, 1998
  • Not in Our Backyards!- by Nicholas Freudenberg, Monthly Review Press, 1984
  • Pricing the Priceless: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Environmental Protection- by Lisa Heinzerling and Frank Ackerman, Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute, 2002
  • Off the Beaten Bath: Stories of Place- edited by Joseph Barbato and Lisa Weinerman Horak, North Point Press, 1998
  • The Rebirth of Nature: the Greening of Science and God- by Rupert Scheldrake, Century, 1990
  • Urbanization of the Earth- by Jorge Arango, Beacon Press, 1970
  • The Way of the Earth- by T.C. McLuhan, Simon & Schuster, 1994


Land Use

  • American Architecture and Urbanism- by Vincent Scully, Henry Holt & Co., 1988
  • The American Planning Tradition- edited by Robert Fishman, John Hopkins University Press 2000
  • Constitutional Issues of Growth Management- by David R. Godschalk, ASPO Press 1977
  • Cities, Suburbs, and States- by William G. Colman, The Free Press, 1975
  • ** The Death and Life of Great American Cities- by Jane Jacobs, Vintage Books, 1992 **
  • Federal Land Use Regulation- by Fred P. Bosselman, Duane Feurer & Tobin M. Richter, Practising Law Institute 1977
  • Future Land Use- by Robert W. Burchell & David Listokin, Center for Urban Policy Research 1975
  • Hot Topics in Land Use Law- by Patricia E. Salkin & Robert H. Freilich, ABA 2000
  • How to Litigate a Land Use Case: Strategies and Trial Tactics- edited by Larry J. Smith, ABA 2000
  • Innovations vs. Traditions in Community Development- Urban Land Institute, 1963 (includes diagrams)
  • In-Zoning: A Guide for Policy Makers on Inclusionary Land Use Programs- by Herbert M. Franklin, et al., Potomac Institute 1974
  • A Land Use Anthology- edited by Jon W. Bruce, Anderson Publishing 1998
  • Land Use Awakening: Zoning Law in the Seventies- by Robert H. Freilich & Eric O. Stuhler, ABA 1981
  • Land Use Controls in New York State: A Handbook on the Legal Rights of Citizens- by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Dial Press 1975
  • Land Development in Crowded Places- by George Lefcoe, the Conservation Foundation 1979
  • ** Land Use in America- by Henry L. Diamond & Patrick F. Noonan, Island Press 1996 **
  • Land Use Controls in the United States- by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Dial Press 1977
  • Land Use Series- various authors & topics, published by the Urban Institute 1976
  • Legal Foundations of Land Use Planning- edited by Jerome G. Rose, Center for Urban Policy Research 1974
  • Legal Foundations of Environmental Planning- edited by Jerome G. Rose, Center for Urban Policy Research, 1974
  • Main Street Success Stories- edited by Linda Glisson, Natural Trust for Historic Preservation, 1997
  • Modernizing Urban Land Policy- edited by Marion Clawson, John Hopkins University Press 1973
  • New Ground: The Advent of Local Environmental Law by John R. Nolon; published by Environmental Law Institute, 2003
  • The No-Growth Society- edited by Mancur Olson & Hans H. Landsberg, Norton & Company 1973
  • Non-Growth Planning Strategies- by Earl Finkler & David L. Peterson, Praeger 1974
  • Open Ground: Effective Local Strategies for Protecting Natural Resources by John R. Nolon; published by Environmental Law Institute, 2003
    • Relevant Chapters:
      • Traditional Land Use Regulations that Protect Open Lands
      • Innovative Natural Resource Regulations
      • Strategic Acquisition of Open Lands
      • Smart Growth: Strategies that Balance Conservation and Development
  • Planning and Growth Management in the States- by John M. DeGrove, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 1992
  • Strategy Zoning: the Key to Real Estate Wealth- by Leslie M. Geller, Prentice-Hall 1983
  • Suburban Land Conversion in the United States – by Marion Clawson, John Hopkins University Press, 1971
  • The Taking Issue- CEQ, 1973
  • Transfer of Development Rights- edited by Jerome G. Rose, Center for Urban Policy Research 1975
  • ** Trends in Land Use from A-Z – edited by Patricia E. Salkin, ABA 2001 **
  • Understanding the Law of Zoning and Land Use Controls- by Barlow Burke, Lexis Nexis 2002
  • Well Grounded: Using Local Land Use Authority to Achieve Smart Growth by John R. Nolon; published by Environmental Law Institute, 2001
  • Zoned American- Seymour I. Toll, Grossman 1969
  • Zoning and the American Dream- editors Charles M. Haar & Jerold S. Kayden, APA 1989
  • The Zoning Game- by Richard F. Babcock, University of Wisconsin Press 1966
  • The Zoning Game Revisited- by Richard F. Babcock & Charles L. Siemon, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy 1985
  • Zoning and Property Rights- by Robert H. Nelson, MIT Press 1975
  • Legal Authority for Local Action and Legal Challenges


Technical Guides  

  • The Best of Contemporary Community Planning: CD-ROM Training Package – American Planning Association and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2002
  • The Dictionary of Ecology- edited by Michael Allaby, Oxford University Press, 1998
  • G.I.S. for Everyone (with CD-ROM)- by David E. Davis, ESRI 2000
  • Eastern Forests: The Audobon Society Nature Guide- by Ann and Myron Sutton, Alfred A. Knoph Inc., 1990
  • The Environmental Impact Handbook- by Robert W. Burchell and David Listokin, Center For Urban Policy Research, 1975
  • NEPA in the Courts- by Frederick R. Anderson, John Hopkins University Press, 1973
  • Seabrook and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission: the Licensing of a Nuclear Power Plant- by Donald W. Stever Jr., University Press of New England, 1980



  • The Clean Water Act TMDL Program- by Oliver A. Houck, ELI, 1999
  • New Strategies for America’s Watersheds- by the National Research Council, National Academy Press, 1999
  • Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management- by the National Research Council, National Academy Press, 2002
  • The Riverkeepers- by John Cronin and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Simon and Schuster, 1997
  • Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Freshwaters- by Robert Glennon, Island Press, 2002
  • Water Law- by William Goldfarb, Lexis Publishers, 1988
  • Water Wars: Drought, Flood, Folly, and the Politics of Thirst- by Dianne Rains Ward, Riverhead Books, 2002

** Indicates authors' top five selections from above list **


Clean Water Act (CWA) Phase II (On-line Resources)   

  • The Environmental Protection Agency is a helpful link
    • For more information about the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) click here
    • For more information about the NPDES Storm Water Program click here
    • To learn more about Phases I and II of the NPDES Storm Water Program, click here
    • For access to the Storm Water Phase II Final Rule Fact Sheet Series click here
    • For instructions on contacting your local soil conservation district click here
  • The Department of Environmental Conservation is another helpful website
    • For an informative PowerPoint presentation about Phase II of the Clean Water Act click here


Books published by Land Use Law Center   

  • Smart Growth Strategies
    • Managing growth and sprawl
    • Land Use Regulations—Innovative Tools and Techniques: Land Use Law Center Checklist for Local Leaders
  • Ground Rules: Answers to Common Smart Growth Questions
  • Smart Growth Case Studies
    • Lists smart growth techniques available to local governments in NY
  • Basics of Land Use Practice
    • Part V: Natural Resource Protection (p. 67-78)
  • Local Environmental Strategies
    • How local governments can use regulations to protect the environment
    • Enforcement of land use regulations
  • Environmental Review of Land Use Projects
    • State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA)
    • Environmental Impact Statement
  • Open Space Preservation