Areas of Expertise & Civic Involvements
Moffa teaches, researches, and writes primarily about environmental law and policy. He explores how policymakers, and the public, can expand their perspective on environmental law by tracing its connections to concepts from more traditional legal subjects (e.g., property and criminal law) and to other disciplines. Moffa is involved with Conservation Law Foundation, Our Children’s Trust, 350 Maine, Portland Trails, and Scarborough Land Trust.
Compares the treatment of, and protection for, indigenous rights in the United States and Canada, and examines how the Ninth Circuit’s Culverts Case (concerning treaty fishing rights the U.S. Pacific Northwest) can provide a model for the resolution of the ongoing conflicts between indigenous rights and oil sands development in Canada.
Analyzes the potential of Traditional Ecological Rulemaking (TEK), passed down through generations of indigenous peoples, to inform environmental governance from an entirely new perspective. Explores the opportunities presented by increased reliance on TEK by the environmental administrative state, as well as the inevitable challenges to TEK-based actions, both practical and legal.
Argues that Dormant Commerce Clause doctrine, in its contemporary iterations, fails to account for, and requires reexamination in light of, the gross environmental and social externalities now known to be associated with contemporary goods movement. Lacking a coherent operative principle, the Dormant Commerce Clause should give way to state policies that encourage diverse local economies and protect social and environmental interests jeopardized by the mass movement of goods.
The doctrine of waste in Anglo-American property law has long been a vehicle for those with an interest in the future to restrict resource-depleting activities in the present, rendering it the manifestation of sustainability as a concrete legal obligation. It is through this doctrine, then, that the rich concept of sustainability as it applies to climate change policymaking can be best understood. I explore the early history and development of the doctrine of waste in England and the United States, as well as the philosophical discourse surrounding equitable obligations to future generations, to provide much-needed non-partisan legal and moral grounding for environmental policymaking.
Provides a diagnostic profile of the current environmental regime’s failure in order to define institutional capacities for responding to global scale collective action problems and the specific challenges of climate change.
Discusses the two types of environmental campaigns in the Southern Ocean that have targeted the whaling industry. One approach, which exemplifies what I define as “protest” activism, utilizes consumer boycotts and protests to encourage divestment from the industry. The other approach, which exemplifies what I define as “interventionist” activism, uses a fleet of ships to directly intervene in and obstruct whaling operations in the Southern Ocean.