Property rights and the public trust doctrine in environmental protection and natural resource conservation
AbstractWe examine the implications of the public trust doctrine in natural resource protection and conservation. A model of litigation and settlement among disputing parties suggests that the public trust doctrine introduces more costs and is more time consuming than would be the case with alternative approaches, such as the purchase of private rights through market transactions or application of eminent domain powers to reallocate the resource. Because the doctrine allows for uncompensated redistribution, it is resisted by current resource owners. Furthermore, by providing open standing to members of the public in challenging existing uses, public trust disputes encourage excessive demands, increasing the incidence of trial over settlement. This outcome is exacerbated if the plaintiffs derive utility from the ‘cause’ and provide litigation services at below-market rates, leading to greater investment in litigation. The costs of the public trust doctrine appear to have limited its application beyond the level anticipated by proponents. We present a case study of Mono Lake, part of the well-known 1983 litigation, National Audubon v. Superior Court to illustrate our arguments.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society in its journal Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
Volume (Year): 53 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
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Postal: AARES Central Office Manager, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU, Canberra ACT 0200
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More information through EDIRC
property rights; public trust doctrine; trial settlement.; Environmental Economics and Policy; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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ICER Working Papers
32-2010, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
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- Quentin Grafton & Clay Landry & Gary Libecap & Sam McGlennon & Bob O'Brien, 2010. "An Integrated Assessment of Water Markets: Australia, Chile, China, South Africa and the USA," Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy Papers 1009, Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
- Gary D. Libecap & R. Quentin Grafton & Clay Landry & J.R. O’Brien, 2009. "Markets - Water Markets: Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin and the US Southwest," ICER Working Papers 15-2009, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
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