J.B. Ruhl

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Natural Resources Journal

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pollution control, resource development, political boundaries


Environmental Law | Law


Arbitrary political boundaries are no barrier at all to the physical effects of pollution and resource development. Yet, despite the optimism that ushered in the heightened environmental consciousness of the past several decades, political boundaries have posed a substantial barrier to resolving transboundary pollution control and resource development planning issues. This phenomenon has received considerable attention on the international level; however, because of a stubborn adherence to the idea that the states must serve as the primary jurisdictional units for managing pollution and resource development in the United States, transboundary problems are equally as apparent on the interstate level. After reviewing the three principal approaches the federal and state governments have used to manage interstate pollution and resource development, this article concludes that each of the approaches has failed in practice not because of inherent theoretical deficiencies but due to a failure of political commitment. Only a rethinking of our politics will enable us to effectively confront and resolve interstate pollution control and resource development planning issues.



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