Background

For almost 20 years, political polarization and a lack of leadership have left environmental protection in the United States burdened with obsolescent statutes and regulatory strategies.  As a result, the country has failed to deal effectively or decisively with many pressing old environmental problems as well as newly emerging ones.  There is accordingly an urgent need for innovative strategies for environmental protection that will break the political logjam and meet environmental challenges that have been increasingly complex.

The Breaking the Logjam project was born out of the need to address this policy logjam with innovative thinking.  It is jointly organized by New York Law School and New York University School of Law and co-led by Professors David Schoenbrod, Richard Stewart, and Katrina Wyman.  In 2007, they enlisted over 40 environmental law experts from around the country and across the ideological spectrum to propose statutory and institutional changes and to comment upon the proposals.  Participants were asked to address the legal and institutional question of how government should organize itself to protect the environment, rather than how much the environment should be protected.  Some of the experts who agreed to participate presented drafts of their reform proposals at a seminar at New York University School of Law in the fall of 2007.  The full complement of experts gathered to present a comment upon the range of proposals at a two-day conference held at New York University School of Law on March 28-29, 2008.  Authors then honed their proposals based on the commentary received at the law conference.

Professors Schoenbrod, Stewart and Wyman have synthesized the various proposals presented at the March conference and articulated in these essays into a report that was widely distributed.

Professors Schoenbrod, Stewart and Wyman have also published a book expanding on the report in 2010.