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Public Trust Doctrine

Public trust doctrine is a series of beliefs and codified laws that consider certain natural resources community property, to be used by all citizens. Since the time of Roman law under Emperor Justinian, common resources were protected. In the Institutes of Justinian, the law states “The things which are naturally everybody's are air, flowing water, the sea and the seashore.” Furthermore, Roman law treated navigable waterways and the uses of these bodies of water differently than nonnavigable waterways. In essence, according to Ingram and Oggins, “Roman law sought to preserve the use of navigable waterways for public benefit.”

Many societies have attempted to balance the role of the natural rights of all. Evidence of this can be found in the Chinese water law of 249–07 b.c.e., ...

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