Environmental Law & the Defense of Nature

As ecosystems collapse and the climate emergency intensifies, the government often uses its authority to allow the very harm that it is supposed to prevent. Sound crazy? It is. The granting of permits is a battleground where corporations, with their oodles of money to buy influence, have the upper hand over nature. In the face of corporate greed and the enormity of the climate crisis, we need action now before it is too late.  An ancient and enduring principle is the trust doctrine. It asserts public property rights to crucial resources such as forests, rivers, minerals, and fisheries. Its core logic compels the government, as trustee, to protect nature and to safeguard the resources we rely on for survival. UN Secretary-General Guterres says, “We must end the merciless, relentless, senseless war on nature.” Amen to that.

Recorded at the University of Oregon.


Mary Wood

Mary Wood is Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the University of Oregon School of Law’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program. An award-winning professor she’s co-author of leading textbooks on public trust law and natural resources law.  She is the author of Nature’s Trust.

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