In the Wake of the Snail Darter: An Environmental Law Paradigm and its Consequences
Everything is connected to everything else: so goes the first law of ecology. This interconnectedness is reflected in environmental law as well, extending beyond natural science and particular resource conflicts to link environmental law intimately with the politics, philosophies, economics, and societal values that form its much larger context-an ecology of human and natural systems.
The Tellico Dam litigation reflected this interconnectedness. On its face, it was a simple environmental confrontation; it will be remembered as the “extreme” case of the little endangered fish, the snail darter, that almost stopped a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) dam. But if one picks up the dangling threads of the story and follows them, the Tellico controversy weaves a much broader fabric. This Article chronicles the history of the controversy as a backdrop to an analysis of lessons learned in terms of legal doctrine, government decisionmaking, and media.