Zygmunt J. B. Plater is Professor of Law at Boston College Law School, teaching and researching in the areas of environmental, property, land use, and administrative agency law. Over the past 30 years he has been involved with a number of issues of environmental protection and land use regulation, including service as petitioner and lead counsel in the extended endangered species litigation over the Tennessee Valley Authority's Tellico Dam, representing the endangered snail darter, farmers, Cherokee Indians, and environmentalists in the Supreme Court of the United States, federal agencies, and congressional hearings. His book The Snail Darter and the Dam -- the story of a small endangered fish’s travels through the corridors of American Power -- is published by Yale University Press and being made into a documentary film series. He was chairman of the State of Alaska Oil Spill Commission’s Legal Task Force over a two-year period after the wreck of the M/V Exxon-Valdez. He was a consultant to plaintiffs in the Woburn toxic litigation, Anderson et al. v. W.R. Grace et al., the subject of the book and movie A Civil Action. Drawing upon his work for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Commission he researched and consulted on responses to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Professor Plater has taught on seven law faculties. While teaching public law for three years in the national university of Ethiopia, he redrafted the laws protecting parks and refuges, assisted in publication of the Consolidated Laws of Ethiopia, and helped organize the first United Nations Conference on Individual Rights in Africa.
Articles Professor Plater has published include analyses of environmental law issues, private and public rights in land and resources, equitable discretion, administrative law, and related fields. Several of his articles have been cited in Supreme Court opinions. He is lead author of Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society, now in its fifth edition, Aspen Law Publishers, 2016. His most recent articles focus on land use, and the interaction among environment, economics, and social governance. Several of his recent articles focus on lessons from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He was voted the recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award by the BCLS Class of 2000 and received the 2005 David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Land Air Water Association at the Twenty-third International Public Environmental Law Conference. In 2011, by student vote, he was named Public Interest Law Professor of the Year, Boston College Public Interest Law Foundation. In 2019 he received the ABA’s Award for Excellence in Environmental, Energy, and Resources Stewardship, and the Kravchenko Environmental Human Rights Award.