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Conservation of the Environment as a Public Resource

Clyde O. Martz, Proceedings of 18th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1972)

There is a critical environmental problem in this country that is getting too little attention in the press, in Congress and in the many environmental and ecological institutes that are occurring across the country. This problem is not environmental degradation that has occurred and is occurring from ill-considered and ofttimes wanton spoilation of environmental resources, though that is a problem that deserves the continued vigilance of all Americans. The problem of most concern to me relates, rather, to the current syndrome of environmental determinism. Through an overreaction in the past two years to environmental indiscretions of the past, we are producing an unbalanced decision-making structure in government, and unbridled license outside the government for private interference with democratic processes of decision-making. If not redirected these forces may cause five adverse effects of presently unquantified but potentially frightening proportions.

First of all, they may wholly subvert objectivity in decision-making regarding allocation of public resources to beneficial use.

Secondly, they may eliminate, for practical purposes, cost-benefit analyses in decisions relating to preservation and enhancement of environmental quality.


Thirdly, they may permit and encourage organized citizen groups to block or delay public actions that