January 01, 2018

Citizen Enforcement under the Public Trust Doctrine

Lisa A. Decker

Plaintiffs have always turned to the courts with creative legal theories to overcome real or assumed roadblocks to enforcement by government or its agencies. With the perceived rollbacks in environmental regulatory enforcement by the Trump administration, plaintiffs continue to turn to the courts. One of the more recent theories relied on by plaintiffs, particularly to enforce environmental laws, is the so-called public trust doctrine—the concept that the government holds resources such as land, air, water, wildlife, or fisheries in trust for its citizens and, therefore, must consider and protect the environment and the public by promulgating rules and taking government action. A recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision serves as a primary example and has widespread implications, including in the context of climate change issues.

Premium Content For:
  • Environment, Energy, and Resources Section
Join - Now