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In this book, the author shows how our reliance on environmental law affects the natural environment through an examination of five diverse places in the American landscape: Adak Island far off the coast of western Alaska; the Susquehanna River running through New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland; Colton in California's Inland Empire; Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the badlands of North Dakota; and Alamogordo in southern New Mexico.
Nagle asks why some places are preserved by the law while others are not, and he finds that environmental laws often have unexpected results while other laws have surprising effects on the environment. He argues that sound environmental policy requires better coordination among the many laws, regulations and social norms that determine the values and uses of our scarce lands and waters.