Faculty Directory

Zygmunt Plater



Zygmunt J. B. Plater is a professor at Boston College Law School, where he teaches and researches in the areas of environmental, property, land use, and administrative agency law. In 2011, he was named Public Interest Law Professor of the Year by BC Law’s Public Interest Law Foundation. He also received the Faculty Excellence Award in 2000.

Over the past 30 years, Plater has been involved with a number of environmental protection and land use regulation issues, including service as petitioner and lead counsel in the extended endangered species litigation over the Tennessee Valley Authority's Tellico Dam. He represented the endangered snail darter, farmers, Cherokee Indians, and environmentalists in the Supreme Court of the United States, federal agencies, and congressional hearings.

Plater’s 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 is the lead author of Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society (Aspen Publishing).

Plater has published articles on environmental law issues, private and public rights in land and resources, equitable discretion, and administrative law. Several have been cited in Supreme Court opinions. His recent articles focus on land use and the interaction among environment, economics, and social governance. They also focus on lessons from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

During the two-year period after the wreck of the M/V Exxon-Valdez, Plater served as Chairman of the State of Alaska Oil Spill Commission’s Legal Task Force. He later drew upon this work as he researched and consulted on responses to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He also served as 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.

Plater has taught on seven law faculties. While teaching public law for three years at the National University of Ethiopia, he redrafted the laws protecting parks and refuges, assisted in publishing the Consolidated Laws of Ethiopia, and helped organize the first United Nations Conference on Individual Rights in Africa.

In recognition of his achievements, Plater received the ABA’s Award for Excellence in Environmental, Energy, and Resources Stewardship and the Kravchenko Environmental Human Rights Award in 2019. In 2005, he was the recipient of the David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the Land Air Water Association at the Twenty-third International Public Environmental Law Conference.