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Environmental Law: Getting Started

This guide is designed to provide resources for students seeking to conduct environmental law research.

Getting Started

One of the best ways to find case law or statutes - particularly when you are unfamiliar with an area of law - is to find a relevant secondary source.  Examples include:

  • Law review articles-  Examples include the Washington Law Review and Washington University Law Review.
  • Handbooks/Guides-  Examples include Nutshell Guides - these guides give an overview of a particular area of law with definitions and major cases. 

When you use a secondary source, you not only find case law and statutes, but also vocabulary that can improve your searches. To further improve your searches consult the glossary of legal terms.

Another important aspect of legal research is making sure you have the most current and updated cases, laws and information. Always check sources for updates; in books, for example, look for supplements. You want to make sure you are citing the most recent, best, law.

Environmental Law Research Resources

UW Seattle Gallagher Law Library Research Resource

This resource discusses starting points, other research guides, federal government agencies, Washington state government agencies, legal indexes, and international environmental law resources.


Cornell Legal Information Institute - Environmental Law 

The Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII) is a free resources that helps researchers navigate legal issues. This resources discusses major federal laws, both common law and state law, federal law, international law, and other key internet resources.


Georgetown Environmental Law Research Resource

This Georgetown law resource discusses federal laws, legislative history, administrative law materials, non-governmental interest groups, secondary resources, current issues in the news, and international government and environmental agencies. 


Duke Environmental Law Research Resource

The Duke law library guide links to both primary and secondary legal research resources, specifically in the areas of federal law, and international materials. There is a mixture of online and in print resources.


U.S. Environmental Regulatory Agencies

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)                                              

The EPA's mission is to protect human health and the environment. They provide information on issues facing the environment, science and technology, rules and regulations, and much more. 


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Provides information on endangered species, national wildlife refuges, and regulatory policy information. 


Environment and Natural Resources Division (Department of Justice) 

"The Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice handles environmental and natural resources litigation on behalf of the United States. The work of the Division arises under approximately 150 federal civil and criminal statutes, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA (Superfund), Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, and Tucker Act."


Council on Environmental Quality

"The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) coordinates Federal environmental efforts and works closely with agencies and other White House offices in the development of environmental policies and initiatives."


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A large governmental organization the NOAA provides information on weather, climate, ocean coasts, fisheries, satellites, research, marine aviation, charting, and sanctuaries, among other information.