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Scaling the baseline: Technicalities and environmental regulation in Owens Valley, California
Law & Policy  (IF1.432),  Pub Date : 2021-02-07, DOI: 10.1111/lapo.12162
Alyse Bertenthal

If we want to understand the logic of environmental regulation—as well as its uneven effects—we should look to how regulators and regulated alike generate and deploy baselines. In this article, I chart the scalar frames used to mark the “natural” conditions that are perceived as normal, desirable, and worthy of legal protection and intervention. I explore these frames and resulting legal standards through the case of Owens Lake, California, which has long been a subject of state efforts to regulate resources and remediate pollution. This case study provides an opportunity to understand how presumed technicalities of environmental governance, such as baselines, are constructed and deployed.