Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship Summer 1999

Book Reviews

Environmental Law Handbook

Sarah Kolda
Bioscience and Natural Resources Library
University of California, Berkeley

Environmental Law Handbook. 15th ed. Thomas F.P. Sullivan, editor. Rockville, MD : Government Institutes, 1999. 700 p. hardcover $89.00 (ISBN 0-86587-650-7)
Currently in its fifteenth edition, the Environmental Law Handbook's goal over the years has remained unchanged: to give its users reliable, accurate, and practical compliance information about fourteen major environmental, health, and safety laws. Previous editions have been highly praised, and this most current update lives up to the reputation established by its predecessors.

Published by Government Institutes, a division of ABS Group, Inc., and edited by Thomas F.P. Sullivan, each chapter in the Environmental Law Handbook is written by environmental legal experts, most of them specialists in the particular area of environmental law on which they are writing. Comprehensive in its coverage of each law and the compliance issues surrounding those laws, the Handbook succeeds in its attempt to avoid unnecessary legal lingo and is clearly written. Furthermore, changes made to each of the laws in the past two years are duly noted.

The Environmental Law Handbook's first two chapters deal with the fundamentals of environmental law and the issues surrounding enforcement and liability. The authors do a credible job of avoiding excess legal jargon and providing instructive examples from real life case law in their discussions. The first two chapters aim to present a foundation for understanding and applying the information in the remaining fourteen chapters, which focus in depth on each law. The index is comprehensive and detailed.

It is inevitable in a book with sixteen authors that one or more author's method of presenting information will appeal to the reader more than others. I found this to be so while perusing the handbook. Though all chapters were well written, I found the section on the Safe Drinking Water Act particularly clear and well-organized. Moreover, the author chose to include at the end of the chapter a listing of World Wide Web resources -- a nice touch. Future editions of the book would benefit from having listings of additional resources for each of the laws discussed, be they electronic or paper.

Environmental professionals, students, and the general public could all benefit from the information offered in this handbook. The presentation of the material is, on the whole, clear and succinct. Overall, it is a highly recommended addition to any library desiring a straightforward handbook of environmental law for their users.


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