‘You Can’t Negotiate with a Beetle’: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age
Natural Resources Journal, Vol. 50, No. 1, p. 167, 2010
44 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2011
Date Written: Winter 2010
Environmental law has failed in its most basic purpose: to keep human activities in compliance with nature’s requirements. Ecological systems are collapsing across the globe, and climate crisis threatens the continued viability of human civilization as we know it. Across the United States, agencies at all jurisdictional levels use discretion provided in their governing statutes to allow continuing damage to the atmosphere and other natural resources. Government officials routinely approach environmental protection as a matter of political discretion – and private, singular interests usually win the day over the long-term public good. This article suggests infusing public trust principles into government institutions to hold officials accountable, as trustees, for protecting crucial natural resources. It offers a modern version of the ancient public trust doctrine that is holistic, organic, and uniform across all environmental agencies. This article is adapted from the introductory chapter that will appear in Professor Wood’s book, Nature’s Trust, forthcoming by Cambridge University Press in 2011.
Keywords: climate change, public trust principles, environmental agencies, natural law
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