Vandenbergh’s article, “Private Environmental Governance” (99 Cornell Law Review, 2013), addresses the shift of environmental governance to the private sector in the absence of any major new federal environmental regulation. “Environmental law has quietly transformed from a positive law field deeply rooted in administrative law to one that is also heavily rooted in private law and private governance,” he said. “After two decades of remarkable activity from 1970 to 1990, more than two decades passed without a major federal environmental statute. Reforms to the federal statutory framework have been stalled for years, and during that time, private standards, monitoring, enforcement and dispute resolution have come to play an increasingly important role in environmental regulation.”
In his article, Vandenbergh asserts that viewing private self-regulation in all forms “as a discrete new model of environmental governance” provides new insights and approaches to environmental regulation and may yield an expanded array of ways to address environmental problems.
Ruhl’s article, co-authored with University of Utah law professor Robin Kundis Craig, “Designing Administrative Law for Adaptive Management” (67 Vanderbilt Law Review, 2014), cites the need for “adaptive management” to allow for adjustments to environmental and other government regulations based on changing circumstances or new information. “Adaptive management has been identified as a necessary or best practices component of regulation in many fields, including drug and device warning, financial regulation, social welfare programs and natural resources management,” the authors note. They argue that “conventional administrative law has unnecessarily shackled effective use of adaptive management,” and show how the practice could be compatible with “the core values of administrative law” and foster better, more nimble agency regulations and decision making.
Ruhl and Vandenbergh are co-directors of Vanderbilt’s Energy, Environment and Land Use Program. This was the ninth article written or co-authored by Ruhl to be selected for the prestigious anthology and the third article written or co-authored by Vandenbergh selected for the honor.