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Characterizing Air As An Exhaustible Natural Resource

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Chapter Summary

The World Trade Organization (WTO) panel considered that clean air is a resource and is exhaustible, since it could be depleted. Before dealing specifically with the reports of the panel and the Appellate Body in the Reformulated Gasoline case, this chapter briefly examines several related issues, including the theory behind the concept of "exhaustible natural resources", air pollution's adverse effects, the legislation in the United States meant to protect this natural resource, and the origins of the term "exhaustible natural resources" within Article XX(g) of the General Agreement. Several panels that interpreted Article XX(g) have addressed the question as to what constitutes an "exhaustible natural resource". They have concluded, for example, that tuna (United States—Prohibition of Imports of Tuna and Tuna Products from Canada), salmon and herring stocks (Canada—Measures Affecting Exports of Unprocessed Herring and Salmon), and petroleum (United States—Taxes on Automobiles) are exhaustible natural resources.

Keywords: air pollution; Appellate Body; Article XX(g); exhaustible natural resources; petroleum; Reformulated Gasoline case; tuna; United States; World Trade Organization (WTO) panel



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