Best of the Books: Reflections on Recent Literature in Natural Resources and the Environment

Best of the Books: Reflections On Recent Literature In Natural Resources and the
Oliver A. Houck and G. Tracy Mehan III
Release Date

Enjoy lively wit and wisdom from the books columnists of The Environmental Forum, the policy journal for environmental professionals.

Best of the Books is a series of 60 essays and book reviews originally published in the Environmental Law Institute’s policy journal, The Environmental Forum. Written by columnists Oliver A. Houck and G. Tracy Mehan III, both long involved in the develop­ment of environmental policy, this anthology provides thoughtful and insightful pieces that reflect where we are now in the struggle to harmonize human impacts with life of the planet.

As William D. Ruckelshaus, the first U.S. EPA Administrator, writes in the foreword:

“If you find yourself interested in the environment and thirsting for more information about what is meant by being an environmentalist, this is the book for you. If you want to understand the multitude of complex issues raised by different players in the debates—he­roes and villains—then read on. What you will find is the rich and fascinating unfolding of a movement that in its modern form is now over 50 years old.”

Best of the Books will serve as an excellent source for anyone needing a canon of recent literature on the modern environmental movement and the legal structures supporting it.

About the Author

Oliver A. Houck is a Professor of Law at Tulane University Law School. His specialties involve environmental, natural resources, and criminal law. He is active in legal proceedings involving wildlife, wetland, coastal, and pollution issues and publishes regularly on these and related topics. Houck served as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., and as National Wildlife Federation general counsel and vice president before joining the Tulane law faculty in 1981. He has since served on the boards of Defenders of Wildlife, the Environmental Law Institute, and the Environmental Defense Fund, an advisory board of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and two committees of the National Science Foundation. He has also founded several public interest organizations in Louisiana and at Tulane Law School and has consulted on the development of environmental law in Cuba and other Latin American countries. He has published several books, including Taking Back Eden (on environmental lawsuits abroad), Down on the Batture (on the Lower Mississippi River), The Clean Water Act TMDL Program (pollution control), and most recently Downstream Toward Home (on rivers of North America). He also has written extensively for academic journals and general interest publications.

G. Tracy Mehan III is Executive Director of Government Affairs for the American Water Works Association. Mehan has a long and accomplished career in natural resources and environmental protection. For much of 2015, he served as Interim President of the U.S. Water Alliance and national Source Water Coordinator for the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities. He was a Principal with The Cadmus Group, Inc., an environmental consulting firm, from 2004 to 2014. He also served as Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pursuant to presidential appointment and U.S. Senate confirmation, from 2001-2003. In that capacity he managed the National Water Program encompassing both the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts. He also has a distinguished career in state service having served as director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes and a member of the Cabinet of Governor John Engler from 1993 to 2001. He was director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and a member of Governor John Ashcroft’s Cabinet from 1989 to 1992. Mehan is a member of EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board as well as the board of the Great Lakes Observing System and the advisory board of the Center for Environmental Policy at American University. He served on the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academies’ National Research Council from 2007-2010. He was also a member of the board of the Potomac Conservancy from 2006 to 2014 and former chair of its Conservation Committee. Mehan is a past board member of the Great Lakes Protection Fund and a former commissioner to the Great Lakes Commission. He also served as chair of the Upper Mississippi Basin Association and member of the Missouri River Basin States Association. He is an adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law and the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University.

Book Reviews

"As Dante encountered Virgil to guide him through the afterworld, readers in this world should use Houck and Mehan as guides to locate and enjoy the best of contemporary environmental writing. This book is a splendid read."

Bruce Babbitt
Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior (1993-2001) and 16th Governor of the State of Arizona (1978-1987)


"Oliver Houck and Tracy Mehan bring our attention to the best writing in our field with tremendous insight. The essays help underscore the importance of balancing environmental and economic interests and are a must read for any serious student of environmental and natural resource issues."

Gov. Christine Todd Whitman
50th Governor of the State of New Jersey (1994-2001) and Former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2001-2003)


"The breadth and diversity of the Collection is a teacher’s joy. Most law professors are fortunate if they are able to assign a single 'source of literature' to their students. To have at hand seventy or so superb summaries is truly a breakthrough. Thank you for this special service to the field of environmental law."

William H. Rodgers, Jr.
Professor of Law
University of Washington School of Law