Sunday, November 10, 2013

Environment at ASLH - Report

I wasn't able to make it to all the environment-related papers at this weekend's annual meeting of the American Society for Legal History in Miami, but here's a brief report of the papers I heard:

Friday morning's exchange panel with the Israeli History and Law Association had two papers on environmental topics. Yair Sagy and Nadia Tzimerman's “‘The Responsible American Oil Men’ and the Israeli Petroleum Law of 1952” uncovered the decisive influence of an American oilman and his Israeli son-in-law on the shape of the statute governing oil and gas exploration and exploitation in Israel, a law which has emerged from its longstanding obscurity in the wake of recent major finds of natural gas off Israel's coast. (Sagy and Tzimerman's research was the subject of recent press coverage in Israel, where legal and political battles over the law are raging.) Orli Sela's “TVA on the Jordan River: American Influence on Water Resources Management and Regulation in the End of the British Mandate and the First Decade of the State of Israel” talked about the influence of American law and figures such as Walter Lowdermilk on the Israeli Water Law of 1959.

Later in the day I heard a paper by myself as part of a panel on attitudes to American law in nineteenth-century Canada. My paper, “How Smoothly Did U.S. Water Law Flow Northwards?”, examined the use that Canadian riparian-rights cases made of American sources in the first half of the nineteenth century, noting that Canadians often cited these sources not only for their statements of American law, but also for their statements of French water law.

At the same time, at the Kathryn T. Preyer Prize Panel, Matthew Axtell presented his “Customs of the River: Governing the Commons within a Nineteenth-Century Steamboat Economy”, a paper that we've noted previously.

Additional reports or comments on these papers or others are welcome!

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