Over the past few years, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI or the Institute) has worked to assess the notable successes and current challenges of United States environmental law to inform a new agenda for the twenty-first century. Founded in 1969, at the beginning of modern environmental law, the Institute has been both participant and analyst of an impressive record of major accomplishments in pollution reduction, greater protection of public health, and more intelligent conservation and management of natural resources, in both the public and the private sector. Like the majority of environmental lawyers and policy professionals examining today's challenges, we also see that the United States confronts even more complex environmental and natural resource impacts today. These include climate change, growth in human consumption and population, the consequences of these changes for water supplies, food security, and preservation of biodiversity, and the general sustainability of economic and social development supported by a diminished and inequitably distributed base of natural resources. To undertake this assessment, we began by surveying the many reports and articles written on reform of environmental protection over the past twenty-five years and by conducting interviews of many of the early leaders in environmental law, environmental futurists, and current law students to obtain their insight and ideas for improvement. We then outlined a potential program (1) to envision what America's environmental future should look like in 2050 and (2) to consider what ethical norms, objectives, implementation strategies, and public- and private-sector roles and responsibilities might form a sturdy platform to advance toward the objectives. This article offers a summary of our findings and a proposal for future dialogue.
Recommended CitationScott Schang, Leslie Carothers, and Jay Austin, Ending the Tyranny of the Status Quo: Building 21st Century Environmental Law, 32 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 524 (2015)
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