Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Schools roundup

Environment roundup

  • Environmental law’s oft-praised public trust doctrine may have made California drought worse [Gary Libecap, Regulation magazine, via Peter Van Doren, Cato] Blame Nestlé for California water crisis? Well, people can try [Coyote]
  • True to “so-called Seattle Process of inclusive and abundant dialogue,” tunnel to replace Alaskan Way viaduct has developed into expensive fiasco [Karen Weise, Bloomberg]
  • Jefferson’s method of surveying “abstract and commodifiable” land, well suited to flat Midwest, curbed litigation and greatly advanced American prosperity [Steve Sailer, Chronicles]
  • RFK Jr.’s Waterkeeper “tightly intertwined with more than one of the players in [Skelos] investigation” [Scott Waldman, Capital New York]
  • High overhead: “what they are doing is pricing people out of the ceiling fan market” [Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, re: Rep. Marsha Blackburn criticism of energy regulations]
  • Didn’t know San Francisco had such a high rate of vacant rentals: “America’s Rent-Controlled Cities Are Its Least Affordable” [Scott Beyer] Craziness of city’s housing policy long predates today’s war against techie newcomers [Coyote]
  • “Chimpanzee almost gets habeas corpus — and in any event the Nonhuman Rights Project gets a court hearing” [Volokh, earlier on chimpanzees and rights]

Update: N.M. court rejects suit against neighbor’s use of electronic devices

Updating a post from five years ago (related), a New Mexico appeals court has upheld the dismissal on summary judgment of Arthur Firstenburg’s lawsuit against next-door neighbor Raphaela Monribot for refusing to turn off her cellphone, computer, dimmer switches, and other electronic paraphernalia, which Firstenburg alleged cause him injury because he experiences electromagnetic sensitivity, or EMS, an acute sensitivity to electronic radiation, a condition on which (per the court) he has been drawing Social Security disability payments since 1992. The trial court excluded the proffered testimony of Firstenburg’s expert witnesses on causation; without it, it found that his claims of causation necessarily failed for lack of admissible evidence. More: George Johnson, New York Times.

Environment roundup

  • Judge Royce Lamberth: EPA “offensively unapologetic” about its failures to comply with FOIA requests [Josh Gerstein/Politico, Washington Post, Courthouse News]
  • Cato President and CEO John Allison to Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.): “Your letter of February 25, 2015 is an obvious attempt to chill research into and funding of public policy projects you don’t like. … you abuse your authority when you attempt to intimidate people who don’t share your political beliefs.” [Patrick Michaels, Cato; earlier Allison rebuff to intimidating tactics by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)]
  • Smithfield Foods questions plaintiffs’ lawyers’ client recruitment methods in North Carolina farm-nuisance suit [Wilmington Star News]
  • “Can Market Urbanism Revive U.S. Cities?” [Scott Beyer]
  • Addressing sweetheart don’t-force-us-to-regulate consent decrees: “Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act” would “require regulatory agencies to give public notice when they learn of a lawsuit that could eventually impose a federal rule” and “[give] outside parties an opportunity to intervene in the court case” [American Action Forum, U.S. Chamber in 2013]
  • After nine-year battle, Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service will let Native American pastor use sacred eagle feathers [WSJ via Becket Fund, Kristina Arriaga, Daily Caller, earlier on eagle feathers and the law here, here, etc.]
  • “Yes, Gov. Whitman, states may choose which federal laws to implement” [Jonathan Adler]

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)