What is Environmental Law?

Environmental law is a complicated and comprehensive area of the law. To give you a bit more understanding and perspective, here are two definitions of “environmental law”:

    1. Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) defines the environment as “the components of the earth and includes (i) air, land and water (ii) all layers of the atmosphere (iii) all organic and inorganic matter and living organisms and (iv) the interacting natural systems that include components referred to in subclauses (i) to (iii).”[1] Therefore, environmental law is regulation of the ‘environment’ as defined.
    3. Black’s Law Dictionary defines environmental law as “[t]he field of law dealing with the maintenance and protection of the environment, including preventive measures such as the requirements of environmental impact statements, as well as measures to assign liability and provide cleanup for incidents that harm the environment. Because most environmental litigation involves disputes with governmental agencies, environmental law is heavily intertwined with administrative law.”[3]

These are only two examples of how environmental law has been defined and, in fact, there is no single agreed upon definition of “environmental law.” The term is often viewed as a catch-all to describe a wide range of laws and actions – ranging from regulating polluters, to protecting species and habitats, or applying for a building permit. People who practice “environmental law” work in many different areas and inevitably would define it differently.

Can you think of any other ways to define environmental law ?


Environmental Law in YOUR life >>


[1] Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, RSA 2000, c E-12, s 1(t).

[2] Black’s Law Dictionary, 7d ed, sub verbo “environmental law”.





Fundamentals of Environmental Law

Lesson Plan: Fundamentals of Environmental Law
Lesson Plan: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Lesson Plan: Tragedy of the Commons
Lesson Plan: Climate Litigation

Curriculum Connections


Join our new Alberta Environmental Laws 101 Facebook group to ask questions, participate in discussions and keep up to date on environmental news. Please share this widely so that the high school teachers and students in your circles hear about this great new resource for supplemental online learning. Alberta Environmental Laws 101 Facebook Group