The Failings of the United States Justice System: Lobato v. Taylor and Mexican Community Land Grants

Introduction Life in the San Luis Valley of Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains is often hard. The Valley is located in Costilla County, one of the poorest counties in the state.[1] The county is populated primarily by farmers and ranchers who, for over a century, relied on the resources provided by a historic plot of land accessible to all members of the community to keep their agriculture-based economy stable.[2] But in the early 1960s, a new private landowner in the area closed off that land Continue reading →

Can Nature Tourists Police Themselves? Comparing Eco-Pledges in the United States and Palau

Introduction Anyone who has visited the Pacific island nation of Palau[1] in the last few years has likely seen the in-flight video titled The Giant; it opens with a child singing a traditional Palauan song while vivid images of the island materialize.[2] Children run and play in their tropical home, but they are repeatedly interrupted by a cartoon giant who visits the island. The giant is tall, clumsy, and destructive of the surroundings—he represents irresponsible tourists.[3] Throughout the remainder of the video, the children teach Continue reading →

Fig Leaves, Pipe Dreams, and Myopia: Too-Easy Solutions in Environmental Law

Much of environmental law and policy rests on an unspoken premise that accomplishing environmental goals may not require addressing the root causes of environmental problems. For example, rather than regulating risks directly, society may adopt warnings that merely avoid risk, and rather than limiting plastic use and reducing plastic waste, society may adopt recycling programs. Such approaches may be well-intended and come at a relatively low economic or political cost. However, they often prove ineffective, or even harmful, and they may mislead society into believing Continue reading →

The Promise and Peril of Paternalistic Approaches to Flood Risk

Our country’s ever-growing exposure to flood risk has been the target of policy reform for decades. To many experts, it is clear that we must stop subsidizing flood-prone development and begin the process of moving people away from flood-prone areas. And yet, despite the seemingly obvious benefits of abandoning areas that will be permanently underwater in a generation, flood-prone living has been a difficult habit to kick. Examining the problem against the background of the philosophical literature on paternalism helps show why. Paternalism—government intervention in Continue reading →

Waste and the Governance of Private and Public Property

Common law waste doctrine is often overlooked as antiquated and irrelevant. At best, waste doctrine is occasionally examined as a lens through which to evaluate evolutions in modern property theory. We argue here that waste doctrine is more than just a historical artifact. Rather, the principle embedded in waste doctrine underpins a great deal of property law generally, both common law and statutory, as well as the law governing oil and gas, water, and public trust resources. Seen for what it is, waste doctrine provides Continue reading →

Lumpy Social Goods in Energy Decarbonization: Why We Need More Than Just Markets for the Clean Energy Transition

To avoid the worst consequences of global climate change, the United States must achieve daunting targets for decarbonizing its electric power sector on a very short timescale. Policy experts largely agree that achieving these goals will require massive investment in new infrastructure to facilitate the deep integration of renewable fuels into the electric grid, including a new national high-voltage electric transmission network and grid-scale electricity storage, such as batteries. However, spurring investment in these needed infrastructures has proven to be challenging, despite numerous attempts by Continue reading →