- California: “Governor [Brown] signs Prop. 65 toxic chemical warning reform” [Sacramento Business Journal] What finally passed was a minuscule tweak mostly aimed at the law’s application to food and alcohol [Bruce Nye, Cal Biz Lit] Court helps in baby food case [JD Supra]
- “Taxpayer-Funded Journal Walks Back BPA Cancer Claim After Statistical Meltdown” [Trevor Butterworth]
- Recalling when the federal government (along with the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations] funded an attack on the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause [Gideon Kanner, more]
- CEQA reform [Calif. enviro review] in baby steps at most for now [SF Chronicle, Mercury News, L.A. StreetsBlog, Daily News, PublicCEO, Planetizen]
- Under decisions by the CPSC interpreting CPSIA, you’re probably not going to be able to make your product for kids out of recycled materials [Nancy Nord]
- “EPA Fares Well in D.C. Circuit” [Adler]
- Mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods are a bad idea [not just me saying that, but Scientific American editors; earlier]
That was the title of the talk I gave Friday at a panel on food and product labeling law as part of a stimulating symposium put on by the Vermont Law Review at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vt. I drew on a number of different sources, but especially two relatively recent articles: Omri Ben-Shahar and Curt Schneider, “The Failure of Mandated Disclosure,” U. Penn. Law Review (2011), and Kesten C. Green and J. Scott Armstrong, “Evidence on the Effects of Mandatory Disclaimers in Advertising”, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Fall 2012. I was able to bring in examples ranging from patent marking law to Prop 65 in California to pharmaceutical patient package inserts, as well as the durable phenomenon of labels, disclosures, and disclaimers going unread even by very sophisticated consumers.
My talk was well received, and I think I might adapt and expand it in future into a full-length speech for audiences on failures of consumer protection law.
“A [lawyer’s rep] discovered the scoops while walking through a store with a hand-held spectrometer that can detect the presence of chemicals covered by Prop 65” [Bob Dorigo Jones discussing Wacky Warning Labels contest]
This year’s Wacky Warning Labels contest has reached the finalist stage. Others that made the cut: “Wash hands after using” on a common extension cord, a Prop 65 (California) warning on a box of matches advising that they may produce combustion by-products, and a warning on a pedometer that the maker will not be liable for any injuries to runners using the device. [Bob Dorigo Jones]
More: David Henderson on “warning pollution.”
- Slate: it’s “fascinating, in a horrified head-shaking …way” to hear RFK Jr. spin his “delusional and dangerous” theories about vaccines [Slate and more, my two cents on the wayward scion]
- What insurance industry behavior tells us about climate change [Eli Lehrer]
- Concern that EU regulations on registration of seed varieties could squeeze smalls, locals, heirlooms [Glyn Moody, TechDirt; Domenic Berry]
- Environmental suits as backdoor grab for policy control [U.S. Chamber, Ron Arnold, DC Examiner and more (“sweetheart litigation”), WLF]
- Symposium on conservatives and the environment: Jonathan Adler, Eli Lehrer, Shi-Ling Hsu and others [Duke Environmental and Policy Law Forum]
- U.K. study: cancer rates and mortality rates among pesticide workers are below the norm [Health and Safety Executive via Angela Logomasini, CEI]
- “Wi-fi made us sick” suit cost city of Portland $172K, but at least voters didn’t put sponsor on school board [Will Radik, Bad Skeptic]
- “EPA acknowledges releasing personal details on farmers” [Fox News] GOP senators introduce bill to curb EPA wetlands overreach [Ilya Shapiro]
- Attorneys’ fees often amount to 80-90% of settlement amounts: latest annual Prop 65 report is out [California attorney general’s office, background]
Not very, fears Bruce Nye at Cal Biz Lit, who notes that “The Chanler Group, the self-described ‘Largest Proposition 65 Citizen Enforcement Law Firm,’ wasted no time in announcing its support for the Governor’s proposals.” Prop 65, of course, is the famous California enactment under which an army of bounty-hunters have set forth to file suits and collect settlements from California businesses for failing to warn of the carcinogenic or mutagenic ingredients in hundreds of common products, from matches (which emit carbon monoxide) to brass knobs to roasted coffee to grilled chicken to billiard cue chalk. Gov. Brown’s reforms omit several stronger recommendations, such as “moving the burden of proof to the plaintiff to show that exposures exceed the applicable no significant risk level (‘NSRL’) or maximum allowable dose level (‘MADL’).”
Most importantly, would the private enforcer bar support Assembly Member Gatto’s AB 227, allowing a company receiving a 60 day notice to avoid prosecution by curing the violation within 14 days? Or better still, Cal Biz Lit’s proposal to allow sixty days to cure violations?
Those measures would be real reform.
- Can EPA use subregulatory guidance to dodge judicial review of formal notice-and-comment rulemaking? Appeals court says no [Allison Wood, WLF]
- “Outhouse blues: Salisbury Twp. tells 77-year-old to install $20,000 septic system he doesn’t want” [Lancaster (Pennsylvania) Online]
- Denying attorney fee in oil spill case, Texas judge questions authenticity of client signature [ABA Journal, Chamber-backed Southeast Texas Record]
- Why “climate justice” campaigns fail both the environment and the poor [Chris Foreman, The Breakthrough]
- Does the Yale Alumni Magazine often side with plaintiffs who sue to muzzle critics? [Neela Banerjee on Michael Mann lawsuit against National Review, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Mark Steyn, etc.]
- Anti-science, anti-humanity: Milan animal rights action trashes years of psychiatric research [Nature]
- Parody Tom-Friedman-bot must be at it again: “best place to start” response to Boston attack “is with a carbon tax” [Tim Blair] Too darn hot: “Dems warn climate change could drive women to ‘transactional sex'” [The Hill]
- Some California lawmakers seek to curb shakedown lawsuits under notorious Prop 65 chemical-labeling law [Sacramento Bee; Gov. Brown proposes reform]
- Better hope a Portland municipal arborist never takes an interest in you [Tod Kelly, League of Ordinary Gentlemen]
- California’s Prop 65 and Gresham’s Law of Warnings (bad warnings drive out good) [David Henderson]
- Bombshells just keep on coming in the Ecuador Lago Agrio story: “Litigation finance firm in Chevron case says it was duped by Patton Boggs” [Roger Parloff, Fortune; last Saturday’s bombshell] Grounds for embarrassment at CBS “60 Minutes” [CJR]
- Brad Plumer interview with Jonathan Adler, “What conservative environmentalism might look like” [WaPo]
- “The light-bulb law was a matter of public policy profiteering” [Tim Carney via @amyalkon] To get ahead in D.C., a well-known conservative group adopts some concrete priorities [same]
- “No one’s tried that. It’s not worth taking the risk.” Social-conservative, environmentalist themes have much in common [A. Barton Hinkle]
- “BP Loses Bid to Block ‘Fictitious’ Oil Spill Claims” [Amanda Bronstad, NLJ; more]
- Judge Kozinski, writing for Ninth Circuit panel, declares Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s harassment of whaling ships to fall under piracy law as covered by international treaty [Trial Insider, Julian Ku, Kevin Jon Heller, Eugene Kontorovich and more and yet more, SSCS’s black skull flag via Wikipedia]
- 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]
- Unintended, unsanitary consequences of plastic bag bans (Ramesh Ponnuru/ Bloomberg) And theft too? [Seattle Times]
- Writer who joined the circus for several days reports on Ringling Bros. elephant controversy: [Bill McMorris/Washington Free Beacon (quotes me), earlier]
- Study finds new CAFE fuel economy standards far less efficient than taxes in promoting conservation [Alex Tabarrok]
- Now Mark Bittman is being alarmist about cosmetics [ACSH, background]
- Overcriminalization looms large for Gulf Coast outdoor businesses, says TPPF’s Vikrant Reddy [FoxNews]
After the quarter-century disgrace that is Proposition 65 litigation — run by and for lawyers’ interests, with no discernible benefit to the health of the citizenry — you’d think California voters would have learned a thing or two. But unless poll numbers reverse themselves, they’re on the way to approving this fall’s Proposition 37, ostensibly aimed at requiring labeling of genetically modified food, whose main sponsor just happens to be a Prop 65 lawyer. I explain in a new piece at Daily Caller. More coverage: Western Farm Press; Hank Campbell, Science 2.0; Ronald Bailey, Reason (& Red State).
More: defenders of Prop 37 point to this analysis (PDF) by economist James Cooper, arguing that 37 is drafted more narrowly than 65 in ways that would avert some of the potential for abusive litigation. And from Hans Bader: would the measure be open to challenge as unconstitutional, or as federally preempted?