I work on problems of water rights and water policy at the intersection of law, geography, and political economy. My approach is comparative and interdisciplinary in research, teaching, and outreach. Since the mid 1980s I have focused on issues of water markets, privatization, conflicts, and governance; hydroelectric power, multiple water uses, and river basin development; and the law and political economy of regulation and property rights. In recent years I have turned to the nexus between water and electricity policies, particularly as they affect hydropower, in the current context of climate and environmental change. My regional expertise is in the Western United States and Latin America, especially Chile where I have lived and worked for many years. I work with graduate students and colleagues, both U.S. and foreign, to study water policies in the Americas as well as Spain, the European Union, Australia, and the international arena in general. I am concerned with empirical issues of law and public policy and I aim to bridge the gap between academic and policy audiences. I am regularly interviewed about water policy by journalists, professionals, and students in Latin America, the U.S.A., and Europe.
My overall goal is to combine legal studies with environmental studies: to integrate different fields of law, history, geography, politics, and economics as they relate to water, land, and nature. This interdisciplinary approach to human-environment relations, grounded in history and the physical world, is what geography means to me. I have concentrated on water resources both because they are important in themselves and because water circulates through and ties together all other natural resources and environmental systems, making water a unique window on the world. More generally (beyond water), I am interested in the relationship between market economics, legal and institutional arrangements, and environment, and I focus my analytical framework on property rights because that is the area where all these fields overlap most closely. In recent years I have worked to strengthen the connections between the fields of geography and law-&-society, two interdisciplinary traditions with surprisingly little interaction.