Environmental Law

Our Book Club

We invite our Environmental Law Section (ELS) members to stay connected and inspired through our new ELS Book Club.  Our book selections below touch upon environmental law issues through a range of styles and topics.  Online discussions will be scheduled in May through July (dates below), and registration information is coming soon.   As another participation option, we also plan to hold some discussion through posts and commenting on our social media feeds.  We encourage you to pick up one or more of the selections below and start reading along with us!


Thursday, May 7, 2020 at 4:00pm

Silent Spring
By: Rachel Carson (1962)

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This iconic 1962 work, though not without critics, helped inspire the first Earth Day in 1970, numerous laws to protect the environment, and the modern environmental movement as a whole.  Utilizing her many sources in federal science and in private research, Carson spent over six years documenting her analysis that humans were misusing powerful, persistent, chemical pesticides before knowing the full extent of their potential harm to the whole biota.  Silent Spring is widely recognized as an environmental text that “changed the world.”  As we read this decades later, what do we find most surprising?  What lessons from Silent Spring ring most true for us today?


Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 4:00pm

The Snail Darter and the Dam: How Pork-Barrel Politics Endangered a Little Fish and Killed a River
By: Zygmunt J.B. Plater (2013)

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In this eye-opening book, the lawyer who with his students fought and won the first Endangered Species Act case to be adjudicated before the Supreme Court – known officially as Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill – tells the fascinating story behind one of the nation’s most significant environmental law battles.  We invite ELS members to consider the story behind this landmark case, and to discuss how this case may have been utilized in their own legal work as well as any parallels they see in current Endangered Species Act work going on in California today. 


Thursday, June 18, 2020 at 4:00pm

That Wild Country: An Epic Journey through the Past, Present, and Future of America’s Public Lands
By: Mark Kenyon (2017)

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Alarmed by rising tensions over the use of America’s public lands, outdoor enthusiast Mark Kenyon sets out to explore the spaces involved in this heated debate, and learn firsthand how they can to be and what their future might hold.  Part travelogue and part historical examination, That Wild Country invites reads on an intimate tour of the wondrous wild and public places that are a uniquely profound and endangered part of the American landscape.   Through this book, ELS members will explore several specific public lands, including Yellowstone National Park, Lewis & Clark National Forest, Arches National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and more. 


Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 4:00pm

As Long As Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock
By: Dina Gilio-Whitaker (2019)

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Through the unique lens of “Indigenized environmental justice,” Indigenous researcher and activist Dina Gilio-Whitaker explores the fraught history of treaty violations, struggles for food and water security, and protection of sacred sites, while highlighting the important leadership of Indigenous women in this centuries-long struggle.  Ultimately, she argues, modern environmentalists must look to the history of Indigenous resistance for wisdom and inspiration in our common fight for a just and sustainable future.  We look forward to discussing the lessons ELS members glean from this book, and how we might most like to see these lessons applied in our communities.


Thursday, July 30, 2020 at 4:00pm

Red Mars: Book 1 of the Mars Trilogy
By: Kim Stanley Robinson (1992)

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Science Fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson resides in Sacramento and is known for his post-climate change futures.  He was recognized by Time Magazine in 2008 as a “Hero of the Environment,”  and the New Yorker’s Tim Kreider called of Robinson as “one of the most important political writers working in America today.”  Collectively, the three novels of his Mars trilogy have won all the major science fiction and fantasy awards, including the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and many more.  The Mars Trilogy follows the colonization of Mars and later the entire solar system, complete with the technological, moral, social, and political evolution that accompanies it, spanning 200 years of future history.  We invite ELS members to read and discuss the first book in the trilogy: Red Mars (1992).  What environmental and political lessons can be learned here, and what role (if any) does this type of work have in addressing real environmental concerns today?

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