A NOAA veterinarian assesses a heavily oiled Kemp's Ridley turtle after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. One of the challenges of environmental law is determining the “value” of such things as a species of turtle or the Gulf of Mexico itself.

Photo credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Environmental values have a significant and ongoing impact on the law, both in the United States and elsewhere. In some cases, environmentalists and green activists have been the primary force behind representing a value in law, by petitioning U.S. Congress or other bodies. In other cases, environmental concerns overlap with other concerns, as in the case of environmental justice and human rights.

When speaking of law and ...

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