Mary E. Cato
Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Mark V. Barrow, Jr., Co-Chair
Marianne K. De Laet, Co-Chair
Richard F. Hirsh
September 28, 1996
This thesis examines environmental law as a social technology, using approaches from science and technology studies, including methods for studying controversies as well as actor-network and technology transfer concepts. Legal technologies, including statutes, regulations, and lawsuits, have become significant participants in United States environmental policy. That policy developed during the twentieth century in response to contrasting concerns about nature (development of natural resources vs. protection of native species and wilderness), along with growing concern about urban environmental issues (such as air and water quality), and waste disposal). The environmental movement that began after World War II gained power with provisions incorporated into 1970s environmental legislation allowing citizens to sue polluting industries and corporations. Opposition to environmentalism developed in the 1980s, as wise use and property rights movements seeking to expand development of natural resources, and an environmental justice movement concerned with issues and constituencies not addressed by mainstream environmental organizations. As a result of that opposition, the environmental movement in the United States has strengthened, and broadened both the memberships in varied organizations and the range of issues addressed. A case study of the Bronx Community Paper Company provides an example of the current state of environmental law and policy in the United States, and the limited ability of legal technologies to resolve increasingly complex environmental controversies.
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