Ecological Law & The Bold Rethink

A central objective of the Bold ReThink is to reorient American law toward promoting good government and the well-being of the residents of the United States. Many fields of American law can and should be restructured to better support and promote public goods, the commons, public health and equal justice for both current and future generations, while continuing to provide properly-structured property rights and to recognize legitimate private economic interests.

SEHN has explored these issues in some depth in the specific context of environmental law. In its “Law for the Ecological Age” project, SEHN has proposed how environmental law can be transformed so that it will promote the public welfare rather than permit, as it does now, mounting environmental degradation to undermine that welfare. In these articles, SEHN considers the relationship of law to the economy, the commons, the public trust, private versus public ownership of environmental resources, cost-benefit analysis and the precautionary principle, federal and state common law, and the interplay between private property, regulation and Constitutional takings law. SEHN’s project has explored how laws embed in their technical structure particular value systems, goals and assumptions that have an enormous impact on whether a law will in practice achieve its stated, ostensible objectives (such as protecting the environment).

Ultimately, the Bold ReThink’s goal of restructuring laws to better promote the public welfare will necessarily involve all of this, from embedding in each law a bold vision of its purpose to defining the balance of values it implements to the technical design of its decision-making structure to ensure it will actually promote its animating vision. SEHN offers these articles from its Law for the Ecological Age project in service of that project.

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