About Zygmunt J.B. Plater
Zygmunt J. B. Plater is Professor of Law at Boston College Law School, teaching and researching in the areas of environmental, property, land use, and administrative agency law. Over the past 30 years he has been involved with a number of issues of environmental protection and land use regulation, including service as petitioner and lead counsel in the extended endangered species litigation over the Tennessee Valley Authority's Tellico Dam, representing the endangered snail darter, farmers, Cherokee Indians, and environmentalists in the Supreme Court of the United States, federal agencies, and congressional hearings. He was chairman of the State of Alaska Oil Spill Commission’s Legal Task Force over a two-year period after the wreck of the M/V Exxon-Valdez. He was a consultant to plaintiffs in the Woburn toxic litigation, Anderson et al. v. W.R. Grace et al., the subject of the book and movie A Civil Action. Drawing upon his work for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Commission he researched and consulted on responses to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Professor Plater has taught on seven law faculties. While teaching public law for three years in the national university of Ethiopia, he redrafted the laws protecting parks and refuges, assisted in publication of the Consolidated Laws of Ethiopia, and helped organize the first United Nations Conference on Individual Rights in Africa.
Articles Professor Plater has published include analyses of environmental law issues, private and public rights in land and resources, equitable discretion, administrative law, and related fields. Several of his articles have been cited in Supreme Court decisions. He is lead author of Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society, now in its fourth edition, Aspen Publishers, 2010. His most recent articles focus on the interaction among environment, economics, and social governance. Several of these most recent articles focus on lessons from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He was voted the recipient of the Emil Slizewski Faculty Excellence Award by the BCLS Class of 2000 and received the 2005 David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Land Air Water Association at the Twenty-third International Public Environmental Law Conference. In 2011, by student vote, he was named Public Interest Law Professor of the Year, Boston College Public Interest Law Foundation.
Honors and Awards
- Public Interest Law Professor of the Year, 2011, Boston College Public Interest Law Foundation
- Recipient of the 2005 David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Land Air Water Association at the 23rd International Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
- Fall 2016: Environmental Law, Environmental Affairs Law Review, National Environmental Law Moot Court
- Spring 2017: Property, Environmental Affairs Law Review, Selected Topics: Environmental Law Seminar, Environmental Law Advanced Teaching Seminar, National Environmental Law Moot Court
Zygmunt J.B. Plater
Professor of Law
Boston College Law School
885 Centre Street
Newton Centre, MA 02459
East Wing 316
The Snail Darter and the Dam: How Pork-Barrel Politics Endangered a Little Fish and Killed a River (2013)
Even today, thirty years after the legal battles to save the endangered snail darter, the little fish that blocked completion of a TVA dam is still invoked as an icon of leftist extremism and governmental ...
Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society (1998)
Accompanied by 2003-2004 Teacher's Manual Update, by Plater, Abrams, Goldfarb and Graham. Minneapolis: WestGroup, 2003; 1999-2000 Teacher's Manual Update, by Plater, Abrams, Goldfarb and Graham. St. Paul, MN: WestGroup, 1999; Teacher's Manual, by Plater, Abrams, ...
Environmental Law and Policy: A Coursebook on Nature, Law and Society. Cases, Materials, and Text (1992)
Supplemented by 1994 Supplement to A Casebook on Nature, Law, and Society, by Plater and Abrams. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co., 1994.) Accompanied by Supplementary Manual, For Teaching Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, ...
Works in Progress (2)
A Glimpse Into the Realpolitik of Federal Land Planning, in Comparative Context With the Mysterious NLUPA and the CZMA The George Washington Journal of Energy & Environmental Law (2015)
There is an old adage that “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Planning is a fundamentally rational, basal process shared at some level and to some degree by all, establishing and implementing frameworks ...
Human-Centered Environmental Values Versus Nature-Centric Environmental Values: Is This the Question? Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law (2014)
The challenging background context for much of the discussion and cogitation in the panels and pages of this conference is the unfortunate fact that environmental protection law in virtually all its manifestations is currently faring ...
A Jeffersonian Challenge From Tennessee: The Notorious Case Of The Endangered “Snail Darter” Versus Tva’s Tellico Dam—And Where Was The Fourth Estate, The Press? Tennessee Law Review (2013)
From the introduction: For most if not all public interest issues in contemporary governance debates, there are in effect four branches of government, not three. For better or worse, the modern media constitute the essential ...
Classic Lessons from a Little Fish in a Pork Barrel - Featuring the Notorious Story of the Endangered Snail Darter and the TVA's Last Dam Utah Environmental Law Review (2012)
Canaries are small, fragile, sensitive creatures weighing no more than 20 grams, about seven-tenths of an ounce. They have become a familiar and significant metaphor, however, due to the important role they played as vivid ...
Monograph: Classic Lessons from a Little Fish in a Pork Barrel University of Utah Press (2012)
The “snail darter story” has become an iconic episode in modern American history—a classic case regularly voted one of the top three Supreme Court environmental decisions but also enjoying dubious public notoriety as the “Most ...
The Exxon Valdez Resurfaces in the Gulf of Mexico ... and the Hazards of “Megasystem Centripetal Di-Polarity” Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review (2011)
The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon blowout spill in the Gulf of Mexico shocked the nation with the amount of oil and harm it unleashed upon the Gulf and its natural and human ecosystems. As details ...
Learning From Disasters: Twenty-One Years After the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Will Reactions to the Deepwater Horizon Blowout Finally Address the Systemic Flaws Revealed in Alaska? Environmental Law Reporter (2010)
Twenty years ago, after the calamitous Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, the pervasive systemic flaws—that according to the Alaska Oil Spill Commission had made a major calamity not just possible but ...
Law, Media, & Environmental Policy: A Fundamental Linkage in Sustainable Democratic Governance Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review (2006)
The functional linkages between law and media have long been signficant in shaping American democratic governance. Over the past thirty-five years, environmental analysis has similarly become essential to shaping international and domestic governmental policy. Environmentalism—focusing ...
Dealing with Dumb and Dumber: The Continuing Mission of Citizen Environmentalism Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation (2006)
Surveying the history of citizen environmentalism in the context of environmental law and politics over the past fifty years, this essay hypothesizes five different categories of corporate, governmental, political, and individual actions that deserve to ...