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Many of us working in environmental citizen suits will spend very large portions of our careers mired down in aspects of the legal process that really should not exist. Some chronic impediments jeopardize and compromise the very effectiveness of environmental law. We all know about the devastation wreaked upon public involvement by strategic suits deterring public participation, especially in siting decisions and land use issues. We watch with deep despair over wholesale displacement of environmental concerns, such as in expropriation compensation provisions in international trade. We face situations such as sustainability only to find a lack of objective standards leaves everything to a political process. We rely upon government experts, only to have to navigate the maze of the Housekeeping Statute to get the chance to obtain their testimony. And especially under state law, the fees for attorneys and experts under provisions for citizen suits may be so tenuous or adverse as to deter enforcement actions by citizens.

Certain core problems for citizen suits ought to be addressed by environmental legal professionalism. This somnolent field can be awakened and transformed. The field has yielded no specific construction for environmental professionalism. It is time to put forward some solutions.

Previous calls for change in professional ethics from leading scholars in environmental law stop short of describing specific methods. Culture, however, has not stopped short in its demand that environmental ethics be brought about by environmental law. To meet these calls for change and to link general environmental ethics to the profession, is a matter for a construction of professionalism. To create such a construction, it is ordinarily productive to use a widely acceptable theory for a source.


This article was originally published in the Widener Law Review of the Widener University School of Law.

An electronic copy of the article has been made available in this electronic Repository with permission from the author(s) under the doctrine of fair use for nonprofit educational purposes.