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The purpose of this article is to begin to place the developments of the past few decades in historical perspective. To that end, the article is divided into three parts, roughly corresponding to the final three decades of the past century. The first part of the article describes the origins of U.S. environmental law, focusing primarily on its first decade from 1970 through 1980. The second part examines how U.S. environmental laws have since evolved, focusing primarily on their second decade (the 1980s), which was a period of tremendous expansion for environmental law. Finally, the third part considers future trends in environmental law in the United States, i.e., where environmental law is going, focusing on developments during the 1990s while relating them to several controversies that developed in the 1970s, persisted in the 1980s, and have since exploded to the surface in the 1990s.

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20 VA. Envtl. L.J. 75-106 (2001)