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; Chicago Vol. 59, Iss. 2,  (Winter 2019): 193-232.

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ABSTRACT: This Article argues that the present economic growth frame is not appropriate for mediating the water, energy (unconventional gas), and food nexus. Its application perpetuates the problems caused by overexploitation and overconsumption of nexus resources. The Article instead calls for replacing the current economic growth frame with one based on ecological integrity. Ecological integrity not only provides a more direct path towards sustainable outcomes, but also encourages, invites, and opens up the use of alternative legal doctrines, institutions, and tools to reach those outcomes. The key alternatives the Article highlights are (1) the public trust doctrine and (2) legal personhood for natural resources. The Article begins with an overview of the water, energy, and food sectors.

Demands on energy, water, and food are at unprecedented levels. This is attributable to a range of factors including global trends in population growth, rising living standards, escalating urbanization, and climate change.1 Today, there are commonly insufficient resources or resource-based products where and when they are needed,2 with the effect that the energy, water, and food sectors have come under pressure.3 Where these sectors intersect with one another, the pressure is increased because all aspects of the universe are interrelated. There are interdependencies, or as John Muir noted in 1911, "[W]hen we try to pick out anything by itself in nature, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."4 Hence, water shortages, for example, "escalate[] food prices, disrupt[] energy, constrict[] trade, create[] refugees, and undermine[] authority."5

Thus far, there has also been a tendency in Australia, towards largely siloed governance of these three sectors despite their obvious intersections and over- laps. Law and governance have been inclined to emphasize insularity and singularity.6 This is so despite the fact that there is a growing body of literature calling for an end to...