COVID-19 and Environmental Law

8 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2020 Last revised: 26 Jan 2021

See all articles by Arden Rowell

Arden Rowell

University of Illinois College of Law

Date Written: April 22, 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic is a seismically disruptive event. This commentary explores some of the key ways this seismic shift will interact with environmental law. It explores four types of change triggered by the pandemic: (1) behavioral changes (including of behaviors with environmental impacts); (2) demographic changes that affect levels of background risk against which laws (including environmental laws) operate; (3) changes in values (including regarding the environment); and (4) changing resources (including those that can be spent on environmental or other amenities). Each of these changes has potentially important implications for the assumptions built in to environmental law, for the ability of environmental law to effectively regulate the environment, and for the way that humans will interact with the environment in coming years and decades.

Keywords: COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic, environmental, law, law and behavior

JEL Classification: Q50, Q51, Q56, K32, K10, I18

Suggested Citation

Rowell, Arden, COVID-19 and Environmental Law (April 22, 2020). Environmental Law Reporter, Vol. 50 (10881), 2020, University of Illinois College of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 20-19, Available at SSRN: or

Arden Rowell (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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