The Evolution of Natural Resources Law and Policy (Lawrence J. MacDonnell & Sarah F. Bates eds.)

The Evolution of Natural Resources Law and Policy (Lawrence J. MacDonnell & Sarah F. Bates eds.)



Natural resources law has emerged over the last 60 years as a dynamic and challenging field of practice, with a rich and colorful history that reaches back to the beginning of the United States. Globalization, corporate dominance, and shifts in resource management may seem like the latest topics, but as this book points out, they are nothing new. The North American continent was "discovered" by Europeans during an era of expanding global trade, and quasi-public actors such as the Massachusetts Bay Company and Hudson's Bay Company, as well as private concerns such as the railroads, played huge roles over the centuries.

The contributors to The Evolution of Natural Resources Law and Policy do more than take a look at the past, however: they chart the course of the future as well. Throughout the book shows how the role of the federal government continues to be a complex one, as markets and private actors become more visible participants in the current policy arena. The first part -- Reflections on Natural Resources Law and Policy -- comprises foundational analyses of the law. The first chapter begins with an historical tour through federal land policy and offers three different perspectives: an "incremental vision" that forecasts the future evolving slowly from past policy; an optimistic view that a change in property rights law will restore the primacy of public rights in public lands; and a less positive scenario where climate change limits the ability of resource-based institutions to cope with future challenges. Other chapters deal with

  • Ethical questions involved with climate change and sustainability
  • The limitations of classical cost-benefit analysis applied to natural resources law
  • The continuing importance of tort and property law to the field of natural resources
  • Property rights in natural resources law, which are traditionally either too clear or too vague
  • The myriad problems that arise under the U.S. Constitution in natural resources law



Publication Date


Document Type



American Bar Association




dams, tribes


Environmental Law | Water Law


Professor William H. Rodgers, Jr. wrote a chapter in this book: Dam Building and Removal on the Elwha: A Prototype of Adaptive Mismanagement and a Tribal Opportunity, at pages 282-301.

The Evolution of Natural Resources Law and Policy (Lawrence J. MacDonnell & Sarah F. Bates eds.)