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Mapping the Legal Response to Environmental Challenges

Authors: Samantha Sellers*, University of California - Davis
Topics: Legal Geography, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: law, environmental lawsuits, public health
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Many environmental regulations have been weakened under the Trump administration, which has lead to an increase in lawsuits and litigation as well as environmental activism across the United States. I am interested in the spatial distribution of lawsuits as tactics to address environmental degradation and their success. I plan to map different data sets and identify overlap, which may imply relationships and/or causation between the data sets. Of particular interest are data regarding the spatial distribution of: public health in regards to pollutants (e.g. asthma, lead poisoning, and pesticide poisoning), environmental health (e.g. loss of habitat, decline in keystone species), population, location of Indian Reservations and Native American Nations, federal or state regulations with a special interest in federal preemption issues, increase or decrease of environmental regulations, number of environmental lawsuits and environmental justice lawsuits and whether they are brought by large green organizations or smaller firms or plaintiffs, which remedies were sought (injunctive relief or money damages), which remedies were granted, and legal challenge wins and losses. Additionally, I would like to examine the locations of recent large natural disasters, economic losses, the cost of aid, and the potential legal damages awarded. I may also include locations of large environmental movements and activism. I hope that the distribution will help characterize whether legal action is an effective tool for combatting environmental disregard and if the effects of legal wins are equitably addressing environmental needs.

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