April 14, 2009
Public trust doctrine urged in U.S. waters
A team of U.S. experts says a public trust doctrine could resolve the issue of regulating federal waters to allow oil, wave and wind energy development.
Duke University researchers said since the U.S. Congress lifted a moratorium on offshore drilling last year, lawmakers have grappled with how best to regulate U.S. ocean waters to allow energy development, while managing critical fisheries and marine animal habitats.
The Duke scientists argue establishing a public trust doctrine could provide an effective and ethical solution.
The public trust doctrine could provide a practical legal framework for restructuring the way we regulate and manage our oceans. It would support ocean-based commerce while protecting marine species and habitats, said study lead author Mary Turnipseed, a doctoral student at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.
She said a public trust doctrine is a simple but powerful legal concept that obliges governments to manage certain natural resources in the best interests of its citizens without sacrificing the needs of future generations.
The report is available in the journal Science.