A "Constant and Difficult Task": Making Local Land Use Decisions in States with a Constitutional Right to a Healthful Environment

Mudd, Michelle Bryan
February 2011
Ecology Law Quarterly;2011, Vol. 38 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
This Article examines the role local governments play in four states that have constitutional rights to a healthful environment-Illinois, Pennsylvania, Montana, and Hawaii. Scholars such as John R. Nolon and Patricia E. Salkin have long noted that local governments work as quiet yet integral third partners with state and federal government by addressing environmental issues through land use regulation. For local governments in environmental rights states, environmental protection is not just an aspiration, but a constitutional mandate. Indeed, environmental rights cannot be fully protected without the strong engagement of local government. This Article describes the constitutional provisions of Illinois, Pennsylvania, Montana, and Hawaii, and summarizes how the environmental rights case law intersects with the land use law in each state. Here, the Article updates much earlier comparative scholarship on environmental rights, using a land use lens. It also builds on the observations of Barton "Buzz" Thompson and other environment rights scholars who have noted a gap between the constitutional right to a healthful environment and its regulatory implementation. It is local government that can fill much of this gap. Next, this Article combines the theoretical with the practical by presenting a checklist of topics that local governments can consider in designing regulations that protect environmental rights. Even in states lacking a constitutional right provision, local governments can benefit from the practical suggestions offered here. By stepping up to meet their constitutional obligation, local governments in environmental rights states are poised to become leaders in creating and implementing robust environmental land use provisions.


Related Articles

  • Wyoming group wins first major test of state `property rights.'  // International Wildlife;May/Jun93, Vol. 23 Issue 3, p25 

    Reveals that the Wyoming Wildlife Federation has defeated a bill that would have undermined environmental and other protective laws under the guise of preserving `property rights.' Assistance of National Wildlife Federation; Details; Contact point.

  • Utah lands bill signed into law.  // National Parks;Nov/Dec93, Vol. 67 Issue 11/12, p12 

    Reports on the passage of bill in Utah which trades state-owned land within the state's national parks, national forests and Indian reservations for federal mineral holdings. Coalition among environmentalists, Utah members of Congress and the state; Efforts by the National Parks and Conservation...

  • Committed to Conservation. Andrus, Cecil D. // National Parks;Mar/Apr2000, Vol. 74 Issue 3/4, p49 

    Reflects on the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Background of the Alaska Native Claims Act of 1971; Public officials who supported in the passing the ANILCA; Implication of the ANILCA.

  • Michigan Gets Serious About Land Use. Palm, Kristin // Planning;Apr2003, Vol. 69 Issue 4, p40 

    Reports on the appointment of the bipartisan state Land Use Leadership Council in Michigan. Designation of legislator to serve on the council; Implementation of smart growth program; Emphasis in rebuilding cities and protecting open space.

  • Can neighboring communities be forced to accept an unwanted land use? Olah, Laura // Public Management (00333611);Oct97, Vol. 79 Issue 10, p42 

    Focuses on the controversy surrounding the marketing scheme for the on stand by status Badger Army Ammunition Plant by the Olin Corp. and the U.S. Army in Sauk County, Wisconsin. Attraction of the manufacturing sector to use the facility in 1997; Opposition of the local community against the...

  • Stop the land grab! Sieman, Rick // Dirt Bike;May93, Vol. 23 Issue 5, p34 

    Presents information on a little-known law called R.S. 2477 that may be the key for keeping off-highway roads and trails open to dirt bike riders. Law dating back to 1866; Roads and trails made prior to October 21, 1976; Finding and registering trails; More.

  • Stonewall senate bill S21.  // Dirt Bike;May93, Vol. 23 Issue 5, p36 

    Discusses Senator Alan Cranston's controversial California Desert Protection Act, which is currently being authored by freshman California Senator Dianne Feinstein and the effects of this legislation on dirt bike riders. Efforts to grab land from dirt bike riders; Loss of motorcycle related...

  • Perpetual conservation: Accomplishing the goal through preemptive federal easement programs. Jordan, Karen A. // Case Western Reserve Law Review;Winter93, Vol. 43 Issue 2, p401 

    Examines the constitutional and policy concerns surrounding federal use of perpetual land use restrictive easements in the United States to achieve conservation goals. Land Use Restriction Easements (LURE); Use of LUREs in federal agricultural legislation; Spending power analysis.

  • Controversy Over Proposed National Land Use Legislation.  // Congressional Digest;Dec73, Vol. 52 Issue 12, p291 

    No abstract available.

  • Representative State Laws Presently In Force.  // Congressional Digest;Dec73, Vol. 52 Issue 12, p294 

    No abstract available.


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics