Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Environment roundup

  • Biggest gaps between views of scientists and those of general public come on topics of animal research, GMO foods [Pew/AAAS]
  • New study challenges prevailing assumptions: controlling for such factors as poverty and race, “no differences [found] in asthma risk between children living in urban areas and their suburban and rural counterparts” [Science Daily; Knappenberger and Michaels, Cato]
  • Interview with NYU’s urbanist Alain Bertaud, formerly of the World Bank [Market Urbanism]
  • Little free libraries on the wrong side of zoning law [Conor Friedersdorf, Sarah Skwire/Freeman, L.A. Times]
  • “Who knew following the trail of ‘clean energy’ money could make you feel so dirty?” [Oregonian editorial on scandal that led to resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber, more, Watchdog] Actually, the correct answer is “plenty of us”: green-barrel projects rife with cronyism in other states too [Mark Newgent, Red Maryland; Michael Dresser, Baltimore Sun]
  • “EPA’s Wood-Burning Stove Ban Has Chilling Consequences For Many Rural People” [Larry Bell, Forbes]
  • “The digital poker magnate who financed an epic pollution lawsuit against Chevron has disavowed the case and accused the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer of misleading him about the underlying facts.” [Paul Barrett, Roger Parloff]

More on that wacky New Mexico environmental ordinance

We ran a post recently on how Mora County, New Mexico, had somehow passed an ordinance purporting to enact various fringy environmental theories (legal rights for natural landscape features like wetlands, a ban on oil and gas extraction by incorporated businesses, declaring all water a public trust) while stripping away a variety of currently recognized constitutional rights, both for businesses and others. A judge proceeded to strike the ordinance down, but several of our readers wondered how such a law could ever have made it past the review of lawyers in the first place, assuming the county was advised by such. Now Joseph Bottum, at the Weekly Standard, digs much deeper into the back story of the ordinance with exactly such questions in mind. He also explores the secessionist/insurrectionist tendencies implicit in the ordinance’s rejection of the supremacy or even authority of higher levels of government. It’s quite a story.

Federal judge dismisses Louisiana levee boards’ erosion suit

U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown has dismissed a “lawsuit filed in 2013 by a Louisiana flood board that sought damages — potentially in the billions of dollars — from scores of oil, gas and pipeline companies over erosion of the state’s fragile coast.” The judge ruled that federal and state laws did not provide any basis for the suit. The suit had provoked a furor in the state, with opponents of the suit arguing that political authorities in the state had authorized and indeed invited and encouraged the sorts of energy development being sued over. An appeal is expected. [Associated Press; New Orleans Advocate; earlier here, here, here, here, etc.]

Big plans foiled in New Mexico

County in New Mexico purports to ban oil/gas extraction, assign legal rights to rivers, wetlands and other natural features, declare all water a public trust, create an enforceable legal right to a “sustainable energy future,” strip corporations of various current constitutional rights, and make the whole thing self-executing against private parties. Federal court: uh, no, guys [Eugene Volokh on decision in Swepi, LP v. Mora County, striking down ordinance on various grounds including Supremacy Clause, First and Fifth Amendments.]

Environmental and property rights roundup

“Pastors also have agreed… to preach environmentally focused sermons”

In exchange for relief from a state-mandated stormwater remediation fee, and direct government subsidies to pay for property improvements intended to reduce runoff, some churches in Prince George’s County, Maryland have made an unusual commitment to the authorities. I explain, and raise questions, at Free State Notes. Since when does government get the power to cut churches tax breaks in exchange for their agreement to preach an approved line? (& Bader, CEI)

Environment roundup

  • In Utah prairie dog case, federal judge finds Endangered Species Act regulation of intra-state property impacts exceeds scope of enumerated federal powers [Jonathan Adler, Evan Bernick, Jonathan Wood/PLF] Certiorari petition on whether economic considerations should enter into ESA measures on behalf of delta smelt in California [Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burrus]
  • “While Smart Growth as a whole is maligned by some advocates of the free market, many Smart Growth tenets are actually deregulatory.” [Emily Washington, Market Urbanism; related, obnoxious-yet-informative Grist]
  • Economic logic should be enough to halt suburban Maryland Purple Line, but if not, says Chevy Chase, hey, let’s find a shrimp [Washington Post; Diana Furchtgott-Roth on economics of Purple Line]
  • SCOTUS should review Florida-dock case in which lower courts held property rights not “fundamental” for scrutiny purposes [Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burrus]
  • “The Problem of Water” [Gary Libecap, Cato Regulation]
  • Paul Krugman and others hyped the rare earth crisis. Whatever happened to it? [Alex Tabarrok]
  • Louisiana judge strikes down state law prohibiting levee boards’ erosion/subsidence suit against oil companies, appeal likely [New Orleans Times-Picayune]

Environment roundup

Forest Service: no photographing wilderness lands without permission

News reporters, nature lovers, scientists and Western lawmakers are in an uproar over the Forest Service’s plans to finalize a ban on taking photographs in federally designated wilderness areas without permission of the service. A spokeswoman “said the agency was implementing the Wilderness Act of 1964, which aims to protect wilderness areas from being exploited for commercial gain.. … ‘We have to follow the statutory requirements.'” [Oregonian, Coyote and followup, ABA Journal]

Update: Service backs down, at least to the extent of acknowledging that it needs to clarify the scope of the ban.