Document Type


Publication Title

Environmental Law

Journal Abbreviation

Env't L.


This paper responds to Professor Richard Lazarus's recent and longstanding criticisms of the public trust doctrine (PTD). I claim Richard misunderstands the non-absolutist nature of the doctrine, which seeks accommodation between public and private property. Although he acknowledges the value of the PTD as a defense to claims of private takings, he thinks that the "background principles" defense it affords government regulators is a static doctrine. And he fails to see that the PTD hardly equips courts with the authority to displace legislative and administrative decision makers. Instead, as epitomized in the well-known Mono Lake decision, the doctrine -- an inherent limit on all sovereigns -- requires those more representative branches to exercise their discretion in protecting trust resources from destruction or monopolization.

First Page


Last Page


Publication Date




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.