Analysis of Environmental Law Scholarship 2020-2021

Date01 August 2022
AuthorLinda K. Breggin, Bruce Johnson, Jaehee Kim, Michael P. Vandenbergh
by Linda K. Breggin, Bruce Johnson, Jaehee Kim, and Michael P. Vandenbergh
Linda K. Breggin is a Senior Attorney with the Environmental Law Institute and Lecturer in Law, Vanderbilt
University Law School. Bruce Johnson and Jaehee Kim are recent graduates of Vanderbilt University Law
School. Michael P. Vandenbergh is the David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law and
Co-Director of the Energy, Environment, and Land Use Program, Vanderbilt University Law School.
The Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review
(ELPAR) is published by the Environmental Law
Institute’s (ELI) Environmental Law Reporter
in partnership with Vanderbilt University Law School.
ELPAR provides a forum for the presentation and discus-
sion of some of the most creative and feasible environmental
law and policy proposals from the legal academic literature
each year. e pool of articles that are considered includes
all environmental law articles published during the previ-
ous academic year. e law journal art icles that are re-pub-
lished and discussed a re selected by Vanderbilt University
Law School students with input from their course instruc-
tors and an outside advisory committee of experts.
e purpose of this Comment is to highlig ht the results
of the ELPAR article selection process and to report on
the environmental legal scholarship for the 2020 -2021 aca-
demic year, including the number of environmental law
articles published in general law reviews versus environ-
mental law journals, and the topics covered in the ar ticles.
We also present the top 20 articles that met ELPAR’s cri-
teria of persuasiveness, impact, feasibility, and creativity,
from which four articles were selected to re-publish in
shortened form, some of them with commentaries from
leading practitioners and policymakers. us, the goal of
this Comment is to provide an empirical snapshot of the
environmental legal literature during the past academic
year, as well as provide information on the top articles cho-
sen by ELPAR.
I. Methodology
A detailed description of the methodology is posted on
the Vanderbilt University Law School and ELI web-
sites.¹ In brief, the initial sea rch for articles that qualify
1. Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review Publications, E. L. I.,
(last visited Mar. 25, 2022); Environmental Law & Policy Annual Review
Online Supplements, V. L. S.,
for ELPAR review is limited to articles published from
August 1 of the prior year to July 31 of the current
year, roughly corresponding to the academic year. e
search is conducted in law reviews from the top 100 law
schools, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report in its
most recent report, counting only articles from the rst
100 schools ranked for data purposes (i.e., if there is a tie
and over 100 schools are considered top 100, those that
fall in the rst 100 alphabetically are counted). Addi-
tionally, journals listed in the “Environmental and La nd
Use Law” subject area of the most recent rankings com-
piled by Washington & Lee University School of Law
are searched,² with certain modications.
e ELPAR Editorial Board and Sta start with a
keyword search for “environment!” in an electronic legal
scholarship database.³ Articles without a connec tion to the
natural environment (e.g., “work environment” or “politi-
cal environment”) are removed, as are book reviews, eulo-
review/online-supplements.php (last visited Mar. 25, 2022).
2. W&L Law Journal Rankings: Ranking Methodology, W.  L S. 
L., (last visited Mar. 25,
3. ELPAR members conduct a search in the spring semester of articles pub-
lished between August 1 and December 31 of the previous year. In the fall
semester, members search each journal for articles published earlier that
year, between the days of January 1 and July 31. e exact date of access
for each journal varies according to when each individual ELPAR member
performed the searches on their assigned journals, but the spring searches
were performed in the 5th week of January 2021, and the fall searches were
performed in the 5th week of August 2021. In order to collect articles from
“embargoed” journals, which are only available on Westlaw after a delay, as
well as articles from journals that are published after their ocial publica-
tion date, we set up a Westlaw Alert system to notify us when an article
meeting our search criteria was uploaded to Westlaw after ELPAR members
conducted their initial searches. A Westlaw Alert was set up for the spring
search on February 1, 2021, and ran until August 31, 2021. An alert was set
up for the fall search on September 1, 2021, and ran until September 16,
2021. Articles caught by the Westlaw Alert system were subsequently con-
sidered for selection by ELPAR and added to our data analysis. Law reviews
of schools added to the U.S. News and World Report Top 100 are searched
for the entire year in the fall, and schools removed from the top 100 after
the spring search are not considered for trends data.
Copyright © 2022 Environmental Law Institute®, Washington, DC. Reprinted with permission from ELR®,, 1-800-433-5120.

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