A recent issue of Perspectives on Politics has a review by Richard Andrews of Kimberly K. Smith's The Conservation Constitution: The Conservation Movement and Constitutional Change, 1870–1930 (University Press of Kansas, 2020). Andrews writes that while existing works on the history of US conservation policy "focus on the policies expressed in statutes and regulations and on the actions of the administrative agencies, with only limited mention of the legal and constitutional arguments that were battled out in the courts", Smith's book "provides a valuable new complement to these studies by presenting a far more detailed history of the legal and constitutional arguments presented to and ultimately decided by the courts during the period from 1870 to 1930". Andrews continues:
After some minor criticisms, Andrews adds:
One broader issue that I would question is Smith’s reference to these policies as instances of “green government.” She makes a thought-provoking point about the successful use of arguments favoring protection of forest ecosystems for their benefits to streamflow and water supply, and of birds for their control of agricultural insect pests, describing these as early arguments for protecting what today would be called “ecosystem services.” This seems to me a valuable reminder that not all these arguments are new. To refer generally to this era as an advance of “green government,” however, seems to me a bit too casual. Progressive policies were sometimes “green” in the sense of protecting natural species and ecosystems, and certainly they were improvements over previous unregulated exploitation—yet most were instances of government-led economic development, with major (and often not green) transformative impacts on the environment.