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Law, Media, & Environmental Policy: A Fundamental Linkage in Sustainable Democratic Governance

41 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2006  

Zygmunt J. B. Plater

Boston College - Law School


The functional linkages between law and media have long been significant in shaping American democratic governance. Over the past thirty-five years, environmental analysis has similarly become essential to shaping international and domestic governmental policy. Environmentalism - focusing as it does on realistic interconnected accounting of the full potential negative consequences as well as benefits of proposed actions, policies, and programs, over the long term as well as the short term, with careful consideration of all realistic alternatives - provides a legal perspective important for societal sustainability. Because environmental values and norms are often in tension with established industrial interests that resist public interest accountability, they are inevitably forced to play on political battlefields dominated by lobbyists' spin and corporate stratagems for manipulating public perceptions. The press, to which Thomas Jefferson entrusted the critical task of informing the discretion of the populace, is a crucially important and often disappointing resource of democratic governance, not least in the area of environmental law. This Essay surveys these problems and explores the potential for environmental lawyers to improve the relationships among environmental analysis, media, and societal governance at both the micro level of daily practice and macro level of national policy and law-making.

Keywords: media, democracy, environmental law, environmentalism, public perception, lobbyists, corporate strategy, press, democratic governance, policy and law making

Suggested Citation

Plater, Zygmunt J. B., Law, Media, & Environmental Policy: A Fundamental Linkage in Sustainable Democratic Governance. Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, Vol. 33, 2006; Boston College Law School Research Paper No. 109. Available at SSRN:

Zygmunt J. B. Plater (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

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Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States
617-552-4387 (Phone)
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