AuthorRandall S. Abate
e United States has a long history of exploiting animals for human
advancement and comfort in much the same way that natural resources have
been exploited since the industrial revolution. e environmental movement
in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s demanded that the use of natural
resources be caref ully managed to ensure a sustainable future for our nation
and our planet. In the ve dec ades during which it has been recognized as a
specialty a rea in U.S. law, environmental law in the United States has been
highly successf ul in ful lling this sustainable management objective. Draw-
ing support from both legal and social developments in t he late 1960s a nd
early 1970s, environmental law quickly moved within its rst decade from a
marginal niche to a fully institutionalized eld in the American legal system.
ere are many reasons for this success. First, there was an urgent and vis-
ible pollution crisis in our air, water, and land. Second, economic stability in
the 1960s and 1970s enabled the United States to regulate the environment
in a manner t hat would have been economically challenging in previous
decades. ird, scientic evidence had been collected to establish direct links
between environmental contamination and human health. Fourth, growing
awareness of the importance of ecosystem integrity and biodiversity led to
protection of the “unseen” and “overlooked” in our natural world, which
gained national attention in the Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill case in 1973
involving protection of the snail darter under the Endangered Species Act.
In addition to these reasons for the environmental law movement’s success,
the most important reason that environmental law became mainstreamed as
a legal specialty is bec ause it worked within the system rather than against
it. While there were, and still are, many radical environmental groups and
objectives that challenge the status quo of the legal system, the vast major-
ity of environmental law issues acquired legitimacy through victories in the
courts and in Congress. Ultimately, environmental law succeeded because its
message was understood that protecting the environment ensures a sustain-
able future for humans. Many environmental law regu lations are premised
on enforcing standards that seek to protect human health.
While animal law has enjoyed some important victories within the past
three decades in t he courts and in federal and state legislative initiatives, it
has remained largely marginalized in the A merican legal system and has

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