Saltwater incursion and wetlands loss associated with industrial use of coastal Louisiana have worsened the exposure of populated areas to flooding, according to official reports and scientific studies. Now a flood protection board representing much of the New Orleans area is suing energy companies demanding a contribution of “billions” of dollars, though its spokesman acknowledges that government actions were also responsible for weakening the natural environmental buffer. John Schwartz quotes me in his New York Times report today, though without the chance to study the suit’s contentions it was hard for me to make any more than the most preliminary observations.
P.S. More details emerge in an expanded version of the story as well as in a Thursday Washington Post report. The agency is suing “about 100″ energy companies. Canal construction and other actions taken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were important contributors to the environmental losses, but principles of sovereign immunity restrict suits against the Corps. Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said “that the levee agency had usurped his authority and that the suit would enrich trial lawyers” and demanded that the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority “cancel contracts with the four law firms that had agreed to handle the case on a contingency basis.”
No food gathering is allowed in the Chicago-area Cook County Forest Preserve, and that extends to dandelions. A spokeswoman does not exactly argue that America is at risk of running out of the notoriously prolific wind-borne weed, but says foraging might take food away from animal or insect species that might otherwise eat the yellow-topped invaders, besides which “some native plants resemble dandelions and could be mistaken for them.” [ABA Journal]
Illinois isn’t exactly a state known as hospitable to liability reform, but here’s this: “The Illinois House and Senate recently passed SB1042, a bill that protects property owners from liability if they allow the public on their land to hike, fish, watch birds or participate in other forms of outdoors recreation. The bill now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature.” [State Journal-Register]
More, via Free-Range Kids, a surprisingly good insurance-company ad, from Allstate:
Both houses of the legislature in Connecticut have approved legislation aimed at requiring the labeling of (near-ubiquitous) foodstuffs with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. The Senate’s version includes an “all jump off together” clause preventing it from going into effect until at least four states have joined in on the idea, which must cumulatively have a population of at least 20 million, and must include at least one state adjacent to Connecticut. [Greenwich Time, Ron Bailey, related ("food companies should just go ahead and slap labels on everything they sell reporting: 'This product may contain ingredients derived from safe modern biotechnology.'")] Earlier here (NY Times is surprisingly sensible on subject), here, here, here, etc.
Esther Wrightman, who opposes the construction of wind turbines near her Ontario home, made some YouTube videos taking a dim view of NextEra, a leading wind-power company. Now the company is suing her, alleging among other things that she infringed on its intellectual property rights by publishing satirical altered versions of its logo. [Ezra Levant, Sun; Bayshore Broadcasting]
…2. The new front-loading washers turn out to have novel maintenance issues. In particular, they may develop musty smells unless owners practice some combination of leaving doors open to vent, wiping down surfaces, and other steps. Some consumers are irritated at this and regret the purchase, others not.
3. Trial lawyers sue all the major makers in class actions saying the new designs are defective, even though Consumer Reports rates the new category of washer “best in class” despite its drawbacks.
4. One of these class actions lands before Judge Posner at the Seventh Circuit, and he rules for letting it go forward on a theory of “predominance” (do these plaintiffs all belong in the same suit, when many are experiencing no problem at all?) that varies interestingly from what people assumed the Supreme Court’s thinking was on that subject.
5. The U.S. Supreme Court decides (coming up momentarily) whether to grant certiorari in Sears v. Butler.
There isn’t actually a strong logical chain linking 1) through 5); it’s kind of happenstance that the case threw up an issue involving predominance that the Supreme Court might find worth its attention, as opposed to merely presenting an overall profile of “hasn’t the whole system just become a crazy way to enrich lawyers?” Because “hasn’t the whole system just become a crazy way to enrich lawyers?” doesn’t count as a well-formed question for certiorari. [Ted Frank, more, Daniel Fisher] (& cross-posted, adapted, at Cato at Liberty) Update: Court vacates and remands in light of Comcast.) (& thanks to Marissa Miller, SCOTUSBlog, for roundup link)
One of Lenore Skenazy’s readers, a kindergarten teacher in Wisconsin, says the list of things not allowed in the classroom without a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) at her school includes dish soap and baby wipes [Free-Range Kids; MSDS for dish soap from lakeland.edu and for baby wipes from schoolhealth.com]
“[T]here is no reliable evidence that genetically modified foods now on the market pose any risk to consumers,” says an editorial in, of all places, the New York Times. ["Why Label Genetically Engineered Food?"]
And while on the subject of publications outperforming expectations, Slate features a sober look at “cancer clusters,” with George Johnson reviewing a new book on the Toms River, N.J. episode.
A highly placed Democrat in Sacramento is acknowledging the problems with the state’s environmental-review law, which empowers complainants to stop, slow down or drive up the cost of new development projects. Among those who’ve learned to turn CEQA to their own uses: NIMBY-minded neighbors, business competitors seeking to hobble rivals, and unions looking for a shakedown tool. [Los Angeles Times]
California Assemblyman Mike Gatto [D-Silver Lake] introduces AB 227, which would reform notorious Prop 65 by giving business 14 days to fix lack of warning before entitling lawyer to bounty [his blog, Dem caucus, Burbank Leader]
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