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February 21, 2014

Zygmunt Plater to Discuss His Book “The Snail Darter and the Dam,” March 13

Zygmunt Plater, at the Library of Congress, will discuss his book "The Snail Darter and the Dam: How Pork-Barrel Politics Endangered a Little Fish and Killed a River" which tells the story of one of the nation’s most significant environmental battles.

Plater, director of the Land and Environmental Law Program at Boston College Law School, will speak at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 13 in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The lecture, which is sponsored by the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division, is free and open to the public. No tickets are needed. A book sale and signing will follow the program.

More than 30 years ago, Plater, with some of his students at the University of Tennessee, fought and won the U.S. Supreme Court case known officially as Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill. Plater used the federal Endangered Species Act and the snail darter, a little fish threatened with extinction, as legal leverage to stop the building of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Tellico Dam. After the Supreme Court decision, however, Congress passed an amendment to the Endangered Species Act that created a mechanism whereby a specific project could be excluded from the act—and the Tellico Dam project was exempted from the Endangered Species Act. The dam eventually was built.

Plater’s book chronicles the tribulations of a group of farmers fighting to save their homes and farms and a group of environmentalists trying to preserve the river’s natural characteristics, elucidating the links between ecology and economics. The Tellico Dam controversy provides a template for understanding a wide array of environmental-policy conflicts.

At Boston College Law School, Plater has taught and done research in the areas of environmental, property, land use and administrative agency law. 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 is the lead author of an environmental law casebook and has participated in numerous citizen environmental initiatives.

The Library of Congress maintains one of the largest and most diverse collections of scientific and technical information in the world. The Science, Technology and Business Division provides reference and bibliographic services and develops the general collections of the Library in all areas of science, technology, business and economics, with the exception of clinical medicine and technical agriculture, which are the subject specialties of the National Library of Medicine and the National Agricultural Library. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.

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PR 14-031
02/21/14
ISSN 0731-3527

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