From Hubris to Humility: Who Should Make Decisions About Environmental Law?

The Indianapolis Lawyers Chapter

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On May 16, 2013, the Indianapolis Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society hosted an event featuring John Nagle of Notre Dame Law School. Many environmental law disputes are about who gets to decides those disputes. And many environmental law doctrines instruct certain actors to defer to the decisions of someone else. For example, in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the Supreme Court recently deferred to EPA’s interpretation of its own Clean Water Act regulation, even though Justice Scalia argued that such deference was misplaced. Likewise, in Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement Dist. v. United States EPA, the First Circuit last year emphasized the need to defer to the agency’s scientific judgments. The role of deference remains an important topic in environmental law, and that role can be helpfully analyzed from the perspective of humility.


  • Prof. John C. Nagle, Notre Dame Law School
  • Introduction: Mr. Brian J. Paul, Partner, Ice Miller LLP and President, Indianapolis Lawyers Chapter