Jan G. Laitos


Joe T. Juhan Endowed Professorship in Property Rights and Policy

  • Faculty
  • Sturm College of Law
  • Environmental & Natural Resources Law Program
  • Constitutional Rights & Remedies Program


Constitutional Law, Environmental and Natural Resources Law, Environmental Law

Professional Biography

Jan Laitos holds the Joe T. Juhan Endowed Professorship in Property Rights and Policy at the Sturm College of Law. He is a regional board member of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute, since 1981, a Trustee of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation. He was Vice-Chair of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission. He was also the Director of the nationally ranked Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the University of Denver Law School from 1981 until 2004. In 1996, he was given the University of Denver’s Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 2005, he was selected a “DU Law Star.” Prior to joining the faculty at the Law school, he was the law clerk to the Chief Justice for the Colorado Supreme Court and an attorney with the Office of Legal Counsel within the United States Department of Justice.

He is the author of several books and treatises, published by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, West Academic, Foundation Press, Aspen, Duke University Press, and Edward Elgar Publishing.

He has worked as a consultant on several cases decided by the 9th Circuit Court of Federal appeals, the Montana Supreme Court, the Nevada Supreme Court, the Idaho Supreme court, and the Colorado Supreme Court, and on several cert. petitions before the United States Supreme Court.

He has lectured at Austral University Law School in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the European Network For Housing Research Institute in Istanbul, Turkey, at the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, the National University of Ireland at Galway, Ireland, the University of Oslo, Norway, the University of Tarragona, Spain, the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the University of Western Sydney, Australia.

View CV


  • SJD, 1975, University of Wisconsin
  • JD, 1971, University of Colorado
  • BA, 1968, Yale University

Featured Publications

  • Rethinking Environmental Law:  Why Environmental Laws Should Conform to the Laws of Nature (Edward Elgar Publishing 2021).
  • Replacing the Standard Algorithm for Environmental Law, 13 GEORGE WASHINGTON JOURNAL OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL LAW __ (forthcoming 2021).
  • Earth Law: Emerging Ecocentric Law (Wolters Kluwer 2020) (contributing author).
  • Pioneers of Environmental Law (12 Tables Press 2020)
  • “How Science Has Influenced, and Should Determine, Environmental Policy,” 43 William and Mary Law and Policy Review 759 (2019).
  • Law of Property Rights Protection: Limitation on Governmental Powers 2nd ed. (Wolters Kluwer 2018).
  • Natural Resources Law 3rd ed. (West Academic 2018).
  • Regulation of Toxic Substances and Hazardous Waste 3rd ed. (Foundation Press 2018).
  • The Paralysis Paradox and the Untapped Role of Science in Solving “Big” Environmental Problems, 30 Georgetown Envtl. Law Review 409 (2018).
  • Law of Property Rights Protection: Limitations on Governmental Powers, Aspen Law and Business (2000) (Annual Supplements 2000-2018).
  • Why Environmental Policies Fail, Cambridge Univ. Press (2017).
  • The Strange Career of Private Takings of Private Property for Private Use, 5 William and Mary Property Rights Journal 125 (2016).
  • Takings Law in Colorado, in Environmental Regulation of Colorado Real Property, Book chapter (Colorado Bar Assoc. 2016).
  • The Gardener and the Sick Garden: How Not to Address the Planet's Environmental Issues, 45 Envtl. L. Rep. 10391 (May 2015).
  • Encouraging Cooperative Resources Games to Promote Sustainability, 17 Intl. Envtl. & Resources Law 14 (ABA Section on Environment, Energy & Resources) (May 2015).
  • Zombie Subdivisions in America and Ghost Developments in Europe: Lessons for Local Governments, 4 Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy 314 (2015).
  • Hornbook on Natural Resources Law (West Academic 2015) (with Zellmer).
  • Why Environmental Laws Fail, 39 William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review (2014).
  • Abandoned and Unfinished Properties in America and Europe: Comparative Strategies for Removal and Prevention, 91 Denver U.L.REV. Online 65 (2014).
  • The Problem of Amenity Migrants in North America and Europe, 45 The Urban Lawyer (2014).
  • Principles of Natural Resources Law (West 2014) (with Zellmer).
  • Sites Suitable for Mixed Use Development in Britain and America,, 5 International Journal of Law in the Built Environment 137 (2013).
  • Cases and Materials on Natural Resources Law 2d Edition (Thompson West 2012) (with Zellmer and Wood) and Teachers Manual (West, 2013).
  • Rules of Law for Nature’s Use and Nonuse, chapter in Rules of Law for Nature: New Dimensions and Ideas in Environmental Law, Christina Voigt, ed. (Cambridge University Press) (2013).
  • The Clean Water Act and the Challenge of Agricultural Pollution, 37 Vermont Law Review 1033 (2013).
  • Cyanide, Mining and the Environment, 30 Pace Environmental Law Review 869 (2013).
  • Standing and Environmental Harm: The Double Paradox, 31 Virginia Envtl. L. Rev. 55 (2013).
  • The Current Status of Cyanide Regulations, 34 Engineering and Mining Journal (February 2012).
  • The Right of Nonuse, Oxford University Press (2012).
  • The Role of Causation in Takings Claims, co-authored with Abel, 20 William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal 1181 (2012).
  • Equal Protection in Property and Planning, 64 Planning and Environmental:Law Review 4 (American Planning Assoc. 2012).
  • The Role of Brownfields as Sites for Mixed-Use Development Projects in America & Britain, in Perspectives on International Law in an Era of Change 492, 40 University of Denver Journal of International Law and Policy (2012).
  • The Social Benefits of Property Rights Protection, Government Interventions and the European Court on Human Rights, Indiana International & Comparative Law Review (2011).
  • The Growing Rule of Nonuse Values in Land Use Planning and Environmental Law, 63 Planning & Environmental Law Review (2011).
  • Property Rights, Housing and the American Constitution: The Social Benefits of Property Rights Protection, Government Interventions and the European Court on Human Rights’ Hutten-Czapska Decision, co-authored with Professor Ed Ziegler, 21 Indiana International and Comparative Law Review 25 (2011).
  • The Emerging Role of Nonuse Values in Land Use Planning, co-authored with Swan, Land Use and Environmental Law published by American Planning Association. Vol. 63, Issue 3 (2011).
  • Public-Private Partnerships in America for an Urban Mix Regeneration Site Development: The Case of the Polluted Gates Rubber Plant in Denver, New Housing Researchers Colloquium: European Network for Housing Research (2011).
  • “Takings,” in Environmental Protection of Colorado Real Property, Bradford Publishing (2011).
  • The Law of Hazardous Waste and Toxic Substances, Foundation Press (2011).
  • The Growing Acceptance of Nonuse Values in Land Use Planning, Planning and Environmental Law Review, American Planning Association (2011).
  • The Regulation of Toxic Substances and Hazardous Waste 2d ed. (Foundation Press 2011) (with Applegate, Gaba, and Sachs).
  • Environmental Regulation of Colorado Real Property (co-author, Bradford Press, (2011).
  • The Right of Nonuse, 25 Oregon Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation 303 (2010).
  • The Emerging Right of Nonuse, 55 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Annual Inst. 25-1 (2010).
  • The Problem With Wilderness, 32 Harvard Environmental Law Review 503 (2008).
  • The Law of Airspace Near Public Runways, 59 Planning and Environmental Law Review 1 (2007).
  • RCRA, CERCLA, and the Management of Hazardous Waste (Foundation Press 2006) (with Applegate).
  • Recreation Wars for Our Natural Resources (Foundation Press, 2006).
  • Literature Review of Severed Minerals, Split Estates, Rights Of Access, and Surface Use in Mineral Extraction, 2005 No. 1 Rocky Mt. Min. L. Fdn. Paper No. 1B Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Severed Minerals, Split Estates, Rights of Access, and Surface Use in Mineral Extraction Operations Paper 1B John A. Carver, Jr.,.
  • The Management of Hazardous Waste (Foundation Press, 2005).
  • Multi-Layered, and Sequential, State and Local Barriers to Extractive Resource Development, co-authored with Elizabeth H. Getche, 23 Va. Envtl. L.J. 1 Virginia Environmental Law Journal 2004.
  • Recreation Wars for Our Natural Resources, co-authored with Rachael B. Reiss, 34 Envtl. L. 1091 Environmental Law Fall 2004 Symposium.
  • The Multiple to Dominant Use Paradigm Shift in Natural Resources Management, 24 J. Land Resources & Envtl. L. 221 Journal of Land, Resources, and Environmental Law 2004.
  • Natural Resources Law (West 2004) (with Zellmer, Wood, Cole).
  • Height Restrictions Near Airports: Physical Takings, Regulatory Takings, or Police Power Exercises, 55 Land Use Law & Zoning Digest 3 (Sept. 2003).
  • Whose Law Governs? State and Local Regulation on Federal Lands, and Federal Regulation on State Lands, 49 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute 2003.
  • Hornbook on Natural Resources Law (West Publishing, 2002).
  • The Law of Toxic Substances and Hazardous Wastes (Foundation Press, 2000), and Teacher's Manual (300 pages) (2002) (with Applegate).
  • The Moral Austerity of Environmental Decisionmaking (Duke Univ. Press, 2002) (contributing author).
  • Sustainable Development and the Use of Public Lands, in the Moral Austerity of Environmental Decision Making 161 (Duke University Press 2002).
  • The New Retroactivity Causation Standard,, 51 Ala. L. Rev. 1123 (2000).
  • The New Dominant Use Reality on Multiple Use Lands,, 44 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute 1 (1999).
  • The Transformation on Public Lands, co-authored with Thomas A. Carr , 26 Ecology L.Q. 140 Ecology Law Quarterly 1999.
  • National Parks and the Recreation Resource, 74 Denv. U. L. Rev. 847 Denver University Law Review 1997 Symposium: the National Park System.
  • Takings and Causation, 5 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 359 William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal Summer 1997.
  • Legislative Retroactivity, 52 Wash. U. J. Urb. & Contemp. L. 81 Washington University Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law 1997.
  • Judicial Protection of Private Property in Natural Resources: The American Experience,, 14 J. of Energy and Natural Resources 262 (1996).
  • May CERCLA Apply Retroactively?, 25-OCT Colo. Law. 103 Colorado Lawyer October, 1996 John R. Jacus Specialty Law Column.
  • Causation and the Unconstitutional Conditions Doctrine: Why the City of Tigard's Exaction Was a Taking, 72 Denv. U. L. Rev. 893 Denver University Law Review 1995 Symposium.
  • NEPA and Oil and Gas Development on Forest Service Lands, in The Natural Resources Law Manual at 205 (ABA Section of Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law 1995).
  • Federal CERCLA Liability for Abandoned Mines, 23 Colo. Law. 371 Colorado Lawyer February, 1994 Natural Resource Notes.
  • Water Rights and Water Quality: Recent Developments, 23 Colo. Law. 2343 Colorado Lawyer October, 1994 Specialty Law Column.
  • The Public Use Paradox and the Takings Clause, 13 J. Energy Nat. Resources & Envtl. L. 9 Journal of Energy, Natural Resources, and Environmental Law 1993.
  • The Takings Clause in America's Industrial States After Lucas, 24 U. Tol. L. Rev. 281 University of Toledo Law Review Winter, 1993.
  • "Use of Agency Deliberations by Reviewing Courts,", 69 Denver Univ. L. Rev. 121 (1992).
  • Energy and Natural Resources Law in a Nutshell (West Publishing, 1992).
  • Paralysis By Analysis In The Forest Service Oil And Gas Leasing Program, 26 Land & Water L. Rev. 105 Land and Water Law Review 1991 Land and Water Division.
  • "Oil and Gas Leasing on Forest Service Lands,", 5 Natural Res. and Environment 23 (1990).
  • "The Nature and Consequence of 'Valid Existing Rights' Status in Public Land Law,", 5 Journal of Mineral Law & Policy 399 (1990), reprinted in 28 Public Land and Resources Digest 121 (1991).
  • What is a "Material Injury" to a Water Right?, 19 Colo. Law. 1333 (1990).
  • "Water Quality Antidegradation,", 4 Natural Res. and Environment 19 (1989).
  • "Water Rights, Clean Water Act Section 404 Permitting, and the Takings Clause", 60 U. of Colo. L. Rev. 901 (1989).
  • Practicing Law Before Part-Time Citizen Boards and Commissions, 18 Colo. Law. 1133 (1989).
  • Water Rights, Clean Water Act Section 404 Permitting, And The Takings Clause, 60 U. Colo. L. Rev. 901 University of Colorado Law Review 1989 Focus: Clean Water Act's Section 404.
  • "Protection From Government Action Affecting Private Property Rights in Natural Resources in the United States,", 5 Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law 59 (1988).
  • "Regulation of Natural Resources Use and Development in Light of the 'New' Takings Clause,", 34 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute 1 (1988).
  • "Uncloaking Law School Hiring,", 38 J. of Legal Ed. 345 (1988).
  • Assault on the Citadel, Part I: Water Quality Laws and the Exercise of Water Rights, 17 Colo. Law. 1305 (1988).
  • Assault on the Citadel, Part II: Dams, Diversions, and Water Quality Regulations, 17 Colo. Law. 2003 (1988).
  • Constitutional Limits on Police Power Regulations Affecting the Exercise of Water Rights, 16 Colo. Law. 1626 (1987).
  • Government Interference With Private Interests In Public Resources, co-authored with Richard A. Westfall, 11 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 1 Harvard Environmental Law Review 1987.
  • Energy Resources and Policy Problems, in Energy in American History, (Pergamon Press, 1983).
  • "Utility Use of Renewable Resources: Legal and Economic Implications,", 59 Denver Law Journal 1 (1982), reprinted in Public Utilities Law Anthology (International Library Press, 1982).
  • Prospects for Utility Involvement in Residential Solar Applications, in Energy and Communications in Transition (Michigan State University Press, 1981).
  • Utilities and Solar Energy, in Legal Aspects of Solar Energy (Lexington Press, 1981).
  • "The Effect of Water Law on the Development of Oil Shale,", 58 Denver Law Journal 751 (1981).
  • Economic and Regulatory Issues Raised by Utility Involvement in Central and Decentralized Solar Applications, SERI Rept., TR-744-1338 (1981).
  • Electric Utilities and Residential Solar Development, in Energy and Communications in Transition 295 (Michigan State University 1981).
  • Proceedings: SERI-ERA Workshop on Electric Utility Involvement in Residential Solar Applications, SERI Rept. CP 733-781 (1981).
  • A Legal-Economic History of Air Pollution Controls (Carrollton Press, 1980).
  • Regulated Utilities and Solar Energy (Callaghan Press, 1980).
  • "May Regulated Utilities Monopolize the Sun?,", 56 Denver Law Journal 31 (1979).
  • Public Policy Questions Posed by the Rise of a Solar Energy Industry in Colorado, Colorado Energy Research Institute Report 1979.
  • Regulated Utilities and Solar Energy: A Legal-Economic Analysis of the Major Issues Affecting the Solar Commercialization Effort, SERI Rept. TR-62-255 (June 1979).
  • "A Leap of Faith: Some Observations on Law's Effect Upon the Earth's Natural Resources,", 25 Am. Univ. L. Review 131 (1975).
  • "Continuities from the Past Affecting Resource Use and Conservation Patterns,", 28 Okla. L. Rev. 60 (1975).
  • "Legal institutions and Pollution: Some Intersections Between Law and History,", 15 Natural Resources Journal 423 (1975).
  • The Social and Economic Roots of Judge-Made Air Pollution Policy in Wisconsin, 58 Marq. L. Rev. 465 (1975).
  • "The Limits of the Law: Institutional Failures of the Air Pollution Variance Board,", 44 U. of Colo. L. Rev. 513 (1973).
  • "Institutional Response to an Environmental Crisis: The Failure of State Air Pollution Control,", 48 Denver L. J. 519 (1972).
  • "Judicial Limitations on Holder in Due Course Claims,", 42 U. of Colo. L. Rev. 439 (1971).
  • The Effect of Full Faith and Credit on Cognovit Judgments, 42 U. of Colo. L. Rev. 1973 (1970) (cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Overmyer v. Frank 405 U.S. 174 (1972)).