David Spence, “State: Judge is Wrong to Say It Must Protect Atmosphere” (Texas Tribune)

In an article about a move by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to appeal a state court decision finding that the agency has jurisdiction over the atmosphere under the public trust doctrine, the Texas Tribune quotes UT Law professor David Spence:

“David Spence, a professor of business and law at the University of Texas at Austin, said the scope of public trust is more symbolic than practical.

“’In a sense it’s a kind of low-stakes argument,’ Spence said. ‘The public trust doctrine in the U.S. is a fairly weak thing.’ 

“Each state applies the principle differently, and few have used it with much force. The doctrine has generally been successful only at protecting open beaches for public use, Spence said.

“Spence said the appeals court could vacate [the district court statements about the doctrine] because her entire opinion is up for review. But the court may also say, ‘Look, this is dicta. Everybody calm down,’ Spence said.”