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Canadian and U.S. Natural Resource Law—A Study in Contrasts

Bruce J. Partridge, Proceedings of 29th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1983)

This Institute has been noted through the years for its down-to-earth practicality. Why, then, should the program include a paper that appears oriented to conceptual principles, rather than to a recital of substantive law? This paper is not designed as an academic excursion in political science. I have been called many things, but never have I been accused of being a political scientist. My interest is survivalsurvival in a world increasingly beset by laws, regulations, control orders, and similar devices that are designed, depending upon your point of view, either to control or to inhibit the development of the natural resources of our two countries.

At best, natural resource law in both of our countries is complex. Then, when we consider the differences among the laws of the various states and provinces, and between American and Canadian law, we are tempted to throw up our hands in despair. I hope to suggest some explanations, or perhaps more accurately some interpretations, of the reasons for the differences between Canadian and American natural resource law. My thesis is that we can find some order in the seeming chaos, but only to the extent that we consider and understand the differences between the two countries' historical development, their constitutional foundations, and even their national psyches.

It is not my purpose to argue that one or the othe