William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review


Alicia Muir


The primary purpose of this Note is to evaluate a new method one could use to bring an environmental justice claim. This Note suggests that the solution can be found within the reinvigorated public trust doctrine. Instead of pursuing environmental justice claims on the federal level, plaintiffs could utilize the sleeping giant that is states’ public trust doctrines. Pennsylvania courts, the pioneers of this new path, held that its public trust should be evaluated using private trust law principles. By interpreting state-created public trusts through the lens of private trust concepts, citizens in a number of states are capable of bringing environmental justice claims, as beneficiaries, against the state, as trustee. Thus, environmental justice claims could evolve into a sophisticated breach of fiduciary duties claim. By raising environmental justice issues in state courts via a breach of fiduciary duty claim, plaintiffs will be able to raise socio-economic and racial issues and at the very least, force a greater evaluation process, without having to demonstrate an intent to discriminate.

This abstract has been taken from the author's introduction.


Student Note.