RICHARD J. KALISH
On April 22, 1970, New York State enacted the Environmental Conservation Law, reorganizing the state administration dealing with the physical environment and creating the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The date of enactment was symbolic, for it was the first observance of Earth Day. Just as Earth Day was to register national concern for the environment and encourage change, so the Environmental Conservation Law was to indicate the commitment of New York State to the achievement of a wise use of the state's natural resources and the attainment of an environment of high quality.
The degree and scope of the state's commitment can be seen from the declaration of policy in the 1970 act. According to the declaration, the state accepts the responsibility "to conserve, improve and protect its natural resources and environment" to "control water, land and air pollution in order to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state and their overall economic and social well being." In addition, the state also recognizes as one of its functions the improvement and coordination of environmental plans in the state in cooperation with other levels of government or private individuals and groups. It is "to act as the trustee of the environment for present and future generations" and to foster, create, and maintain "conditions under which man and nature can thrive in harmony with each other."
The assumption of these responsibilities is not a small order. Despite the acceptance of general principles, there are many questions regarding the compatibility of the listed goals. Because many policies or goals may conflict, society may have to forego something it wants in order