Thursday, January 16, 2014

Save The Date: Jan. 21 EPA teleconference presentation: Hirokawa on Sustaining Ecosystem Services through Local Environmental Law

U.S. EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC) Research Program Seminar Series Proudly Presents…


Keith H. Hirokawa

Associate Professor

Albany Law School

Albany, NY


Sustaining Ecosystem Services through Local Environmental Law


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

3:00 - 4:30 pm EST


---this talk is open to all interested audiences---



In the early decades of modern environmental law, local governments retained their prerogative over community design and other essentially local matters, but were largely excluded from the debate on national environmental policy. More recently, environmental lawyers have reignited the question of how and where the local government regulation of land use impacts intersects with environmental quality. It is interesting to note that as the national dialogue has turned to the important role of local governments in achieving our environmental quality goals, there has been a corresponding emergence of an "ecosystem services" approach to understanding nature. It is more interesting to note how many of the stories of ecosystem services – successes, explanations, and illustrations – take place in local governments and in community decision making. Perhaps by coincidence, but likely due to design, local environmental law and ecosystem services have evolved in a complementary manner.

This article looks at the recent trends in recognizing and regulating ecosystem services at the local level. Local governments are adopting regulations aimed at capturing the benefits of functioning ecosystems by transcending aesthetic values of local nature and focusing on ecological processes and the services they provide. Section II introduces the topic by arguing that because of the manner in which local governments regulate environmental impacts, the value embedded in ecosystem services is commensurable with local regulation. Section III illustrates the relationship between local governance and ecosystem services, as well as the opportunities presented by this relationship, by examining some of the ways that local environmental law has embraced the advantages of an ecosystem services perspective. This article concludes that local governments are leaders in the implementation of ecosystems services-based regulation, that communities are the direct beneficiaries of such action, and that this is exactly as it should be.


Professor Hirokawa joined the faculty at Albany Law School in 2009.  He teaches courses involving environmental and natural resources law, land use planning, property law, and jurisprudence.  Professor Hirokawa's scholarship has explored convergences in ecology, ethics, economics, and law, with particular attention given to local environmental law, ecosystem services policy, watershed management, and environmental impact analysis. He has authored dozens of professional and scholarly articles in these areas and has co-edited (with Patricia Salkin) Greening Local Government (forthcoming 2012, ABA). Prior to joining the faculty at Albany Law, Professor Hirokawa was an Associate Professor at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Oregon School of Law.  Professor Hirokawa practiced land use and environmental law in Oregon and Washington and was heavily involved with community groups and nonprofit organizations. Professor Hirokawa studied philosophy and law at the University of Connecticut, where he earned his JD and MA degrees.  He earned his LLM in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis & Clark Law School.

To Access the Web Conference:

1. Click on the conference link and enter as a guest:

2. Dial:  (866) 299-3188, then enter the conference code: 9195415646#

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