Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Volume 13, Issue 3 (2023)
ABOUT THIS COLLECTION
The Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy (AJELP) is an interdisciplinary online publication that examines environmental issues from legal, scientific, economic, and public policy perspectives. This student-run journal publishes articles on a rolling basis with the intention of providing timely legal and policy updates of interest to the environmental community.
Centering Mni Waconi in Water Law: The Nature of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma's Water Rights and Potential Methods to Ascertain ThemWater is not a natural resource. Water is a source of life that every being on this planet has an inalienable right to. For that reason, we say “Mni Waconi” which means “Water is Life.” The law of the United States, however, ignores this fact and attempts to create a means of dominion over a source of life that is sacred and gifted with the intention that it be shared and protected. Therefore, this note attempts to aid the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma in the war against environmental genocide by discerning the nature of their reserved water rights and methods to ascertain them. To ensure that the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma has access to clean water for the next seven generations and beyond, this note refutes aspects of the Winters doctrine and argues that a breach of trust claim against the federal government is the best course of action.
What is the Grass? Defining the Ecological PersonThis note will trace the tension between the legal subject-statuses of personhood and citizenship in the creation of non-human legal persons. Specifically, I will examine legal efforts that rely on the legal personhood of nature and ecosystems. These efforts exist in the context of other novel efforts to expand personhood subject-status to non-agents, which require personhood in order to establish standing, but further require guardians to litigate and protect their alleged rights–namely, legal rights of artificial intelligences, of fetuses, and of oft-analogized corporations. This note will focus its discussion of ecosystem personhood within the complaint brought by Deep Green Resistance on behalf of the Colorado River Ecosystem against the State of Colorado, and the subsequent legal failure to achieve protection for the ecosystem through the construction of legal personhood. The success of the State over the ecosystem offers a lens through which to examine the relative possibilities and strengths of person and citizen subject-status. In order to think through the legal necessity and consequences of expanding the category of “person” to non-actors, I will first foreground the current categories of legal personhood and American citizenship in their historical antecedents, specifically during the political period spanning the Civil War, when a new group of natural persons were struggling to obtain full legal personhood and citizenship status. I will also look at the interplay of theories of ecosystem personhood, corporate personhood, and Artificial Intelligence personhood to limn the contours of this nascent recognition of non-human persons under American law. Lastly, this note will explore the historical move from enshrining personhood to enshrining citizenship, and whether this move is required, beneficial, or even possible in the case of non-agents.