The Role of Geography in the Genesis and Evolution of Environmental Rights in Montana
AdvisorHolden, William N.
AuthorOwad, Kathryn Rose
Committee MemberIngelson, Allan
Geography and Law
Human Environment Relationship
Anaconda Copper Company
Self Executing Environmental Rights
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AbstractA constitution is the repository of a society’s most cherished values and future ambitions, and offers any right enumerated therein the highest amount of legal protection. In 1972, the citizens of the State of Montana entrenched within their State Constitution the right to a clean and healthful environment, as well as several additional environmental guarantees. This constitutionalization of environmental values signified a shift in Montana’s identity from a historic natural resources colony, to a state with environmental consciousness. This case study utilized two qualitative research approaches, narrative history and document analysis, to conclude that Montanans’ development of an environmental ethic, and the consequential enshrinement of environmental rights, resulted from a combination of distinct geographic, political, historical, and social phenomena. Although Montana courts have developed a relatively strong precedent for implementing these environmental provisions, the true strength of these rights remains tentative and depends on future judicial review and citizen involvement.
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