by Daniel P. Selmi
University of Chicago Press, 2022
eISBN: 978-0-226-81628-9 | Cloth: 978-0-226-81619-7 | Paper: 978-0-226-83340-8
Library of Congress Classification KF3817.S45 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 344.73046

The story behind the historic Mineral King Valley case, which reveals how the Sierra Club battled Disney’s ski resort development and launched a new environmental era in America.
In our current age of climate change–induced panic, it’s hard to imagine a time when private groups were not actively enforcing environmental protection laws in the courts. It wasn’t until 1972, however, that a David and Goliath–esque Supreme Court showdown involving the Sierra Club and Disney set a revolutionary legal precedent for the era of environmental activism we live in today.
Set against the backdrop of the environmental movement that swept the country in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dawn at Mineral King Valley tells the surprising story of how the US Forest Service, the Disney company, and the Sierra Club each struggled to adapt to the new, rapidly changing political landscape of environmental consciousness in postwar America. Proposed in 1965 and approved by the federal government in 1969, Disney’s vast development plan would have irreversibly altered the practically untouched Mineral King Valley, a magnificently beautiful alpine area in the Sierra Nevada mountains. At first, the plan met with unanimous approval from elected officials, government administrators, and the press—it seemed inevitable that this expanse of wild natural land would be radically changed and turned over to a private corporation. Then the scrappy Sierra Club forcefully pushed back with a lawsuit that ultimately propelled the modern environmental era by allowing interest groups to bring litigation against environmentally destructive projects.
An expert on environmental law and appellate advocacy, Daniel P. Selmi uses his authoritative narrative voice to recount the complete history of this revolutionary legal battle and the ramifications that continue today, almost 50 years later.