Journal of Law and Policy


The Industrial Revolution introduced an era of exceptional technological advances. However, it also led to rampant environmental pollution and degradation. The proliferation of toxic pollutants in the air, water and soil has led us to the precipice of an unimaginable future; a future defined by climate change. This Note argues for the use of the special relationship exception, affirmed by the Supreme Court in DeShaney v. Winnebago, in environmental litigation in order to uphold governments’ affirmative duty to protect the environment. As federal and state governments have the sole power to regulate environmental pollution and enforce environmental protections, individuals are left completely dependent on governments to provide for the basic necessities of safe and sustainable water, food, and air. Governments have restrained an individual’s liberty to provide for these basic needs; as such, they should be under an obligation to “fill the gap.”