There is a battle for the planet raging behind the scenes. Environmentalists and corporations are waging a war of words that will frame future law suits. The planet received some very good news when a Texas judge ruled that the atmosphere is a “public trust” thus planting the seed that the public has an obligation to care for that trust. Proponents have called the ruling a “shot heard round the world” in the struggle to curb pollution. The ruling is probably much more limited than that, but every little bit of sanity helps.

“The “public trust” doctrine is a legal principle derived from English Common Law. Traditionally it has applied to water resources. The waters of the state are deemed a public resource owned by and available to all citizens equally for the purposes of navigation, fishing, recreation, and other uses. The owner cannot use that resource in a way that interferes with the public’s use and interest. The public trustee, usually the state, must act to maintain and enhance the trust’s resources for the benefit of future generations.”

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