Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2003

Abstract

A preliminary analysis of several core environmental provisions suggests that the mix of values embedded in our environmental statutes is substantially similar to the values found in the common law and non-environmental statutes. That is, the environmental statutes tend to reflect human concerns that predate any dawning of environmental awareness -- with only a modest introduction of new values or reasons for caring that are uniquely attributable to concern for the human relationship to the environment. If this is true, it seems to undermine a tenet of the public debate. It may call into question the very naming of these as "environmental" laws and their easy identification with "environmentalism" and environmental ethics. Apart from this, my goal is to focus attention on the nature of the values included and those excluded from consideration under our various laws. I envision a study of the process by which our law and our values evolve. This study should enhance our understanding of the law and of the role of various institutions in the development of both the law and its ethical content.

This article suggests that despite impressive consensus and legacy, it is not clear that environmental laws do reflect any clearly articulated ethic that should be called environmental. The aim of this article is to explore whether and how we can know if our laws relating to the environment accurately reflect values held by a majority of people. This article posits the value of a concerted effort by legal scholars to articulate more clearly the values and ethics that underlie our environmental laws and that are promoted by them.

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