Should There Be a Constitutional Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment?

12 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2006


This article summarizes the author's argument in her book The Clean Water Act and the Constitution (ELI 2004) that constitutional principles such as standing and separation of powers distort the balance of enforcement authority that Congress created in most of the federal environmental statutes. Arguing that the inclusion of environmental citizen suits is an important part of American environmental policy and that the Supreme Court has unnecessarily narrowed constitutional doctrines to limit citizen suits, this article concludes that a structural amendment to the United States Constitution that recognizes the role of citizens in the law could better balance environmental enforcement opportunities while preserving to Congress, rather than the courts, the primary authority to set environmental policy.

Keywords: environmental law, Clean Water Act, Constitution, citizen suit

JEL Classification: Q25, Q28

Suggested Citation

Craig, Robin Kundis, Should There Be a Constitutional Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment?. Environmental Law Reporter, Vol. 34, p. 11013, December 2004, Available at SSRN:

Robin Kundis Craig (Contact Author)

USC Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

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