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John Applegate

Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs


Indiana University Maurer School of Law

John Applegate is the Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs at Indiana University. 

Areas of Professor Applegate’s research and teaching have focused on environmental law, specifically the regulation of toxic substances and hazardous waste, risk assessment, and public participation. He teaches or has taught the environmental law survey course, international environmental law, environmental justice, toxic torts, and Superfund. He has also taught administrative law, which is the procedural foundation for environmental law, as well as torts and property, which are substantively allied subjects.

Since 1993, Professor Applegate has been involved in advising the U.S. Department of Energy on the environmental clean-up of the nuclear weapons complex. He chaired a path-breaking citizens advisory board at the Fernald facility in southwestern Ohio, which resulted in a consensus plan for environmental remediation which met legal standards, satisfied citizen concerns, sped clean-up, and saved approximately $2 billion over original estimates. The Fernald Citizens Advisory Board and clean-up plan became a model for sites throughout the United States. Professor Applegate also served on the DOE Environmental Management Advisory Board from 1994-2001, advising the Assistant Secretary on numerous aspects of the national clean-up program, including the use of risk, public participation, and the long-term management of residual contamination. He has continued his involvement with these issues as a member of National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences committees on the long-term management of radioactive waste and the management of DOE’s high-level nuclear waste. He currently serves on the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board of the National Academies.

Following a federal appellate clerkship, Professor Applegate worked in the private sector for a major Washington, D.C., law firm, specializing in environmental and other regulatory matters, in particular, FIFRA and TSCA. He also took a six-month sabbatical to work at a neighborhood law office of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in D.C., working on housing and consumer protection matters. As noted above, Professor Applegate served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy on environmental clean-up.

Professor Applegate’s writing follows his teaching and “real world” activities closely. He has written extensively on the use and misuse of risk assessment in environmental, safety, and health regulation. He is the lead author of the only law casebook, now in its second edition, to deal exclusively and comprehensively with the statutes that regulate toxic substances and hazardous wastes. Drawing in part on his DOE experience, he has written a series of articles on various phases of the environmental remediation process under the Superfund statute (CERCLA), including placing sites on the National Priorities List, the consideration of short-term risks in remediation decisions, public participation in remediation decisions, and the long-term management of residual contamination at Superfund sites. His most recent work has focused on the new European Union chemicals regulation, known as REACH, and on the Precautionary Principle, a core concept in international and European environmental law, whose introduction into the United States is stoutly resisted by corporate and industrial interests. His chapter, “Embracing a Precautionary Approach to Climate Change,” will appear in Economic Thought and United States Climate Change Policy, edited by CPR Member Scholar David Driesen.

Professor Applegate is widely recognized in the radioactive clean-up world for his leadership in public participation. He has spoken to numerous environmental organizations, testified before Congress, and lectured to international audiences on this and related topics. He has been a peer reviewer for several studies and publications relating to these areas (soil clean-up levels, site risk assessment projects), including a number by the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences.