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View Full Version : Environment: Hypothetical environmental issue under a Ron Paul administration.




germanyt
02-27-2012, 09:12 AM
I'm a rural land owner who raises cattle for a living. I'm not struggling for money but certainly not wealthy. Just behind the 20 acres of property I own there is a utility company. Let's call it PG&E. Contaminated water leaking over the course of 10 years destroys my fresh water supply (well water) and starts making my cattle sick. Then my kids get sick from playing in the yard all the time. I suffered tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue from dead cows and now my hospital bills are racking up from the ailments my family is dealing with.

What do I do?

klamath
02-27-2012, 09:22 AM
Sue.

germanyt
02-27-2012, 10:55 AM
Sue.

Who sues who and with what money? I'm just a rural cattle farmer with 1 high school kid and another in college. I don't have the money to hire an attorney. Especially not one that can take on a multi billion dollar company's legal department.

Also, let's assume that the pollution and contamination doesn't bother me. Or it's affecting an area of my property that isn't really a concern of mine. Does that make it okay for the company to pollute my back yard? If I own 1000 acres of land and PG&E offers me a billion dollars to dump poison on my land, is that okay? Is that legal?

Liberty4life
02-27-2012, 11:06 AM
I'm a rural land owner who raises cattle for a living. I'm not struggling for money but certainly not wealthy. Just behind the 20 acres of property I own there is a utility company. Let's call it PG&E. Contaminated water leaking over the course of 10 years destroys my fresh water supply (well water) and starts making my cattle sick. Then my kids get sick from playing in the yard all the time. I suffered tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue from dead cows and now my hospital bills are racking up from the ailments my family is dealing with.

What do I do?
The pure capitalistic and truly the best approach/solution is to create a new energy market, PG&E is a monopoly, if proper competition was used good companys would come and the ones who don't pollute would win out, the bad guys would get exposed and environmental problems would be more easier handled.
The pure capitalistic approach lets new markets open and compete, the good stuff comes to the top and premium prices are ask, then clone spinoffs appear which is good for the economy too.

germanyt
02-27-2012, 11:12 AM
If the polluter is half the price though, what makes you think they would go out of business? Because they are spending less money on cleaning up their process they offer power at substantially lower costs than the next company. PG&E just being the name used as the example. If the land they are polluting is their own then what's to stop them? And I still have dead cattle and no money for an attorney.

germanyt
02-27-2012, 11:14 AM
Help me out here people. I'm a Ron Paul voter. Hands down, no question, if I have to write his name in I will. But I'm of the opinion that his environmental policy is attrocious and dismantling the EPA is a horrible idea.

Explain to me why I'm wrong.

Icymudpuppy
02-27-2012, 11:15 AM
The company will not want to go to court because of the bad publicity. They will want to settle out of court. Ask for three times more than you need to move to buy another property, restock your herd, and pay your medical expenses or whatever your attorney thinks you should demand, and also stipulate that they need to immediately stop the pollution and clean up or purchase your polluted property or you will go public. Many attorneys will take a case like this for a portion of the settlement without billing you up front at all. Settle for no less than 1.5 times what you need to get yourself back to where you started.

klamath
02-27-2012, 11:19 AM
Who sues who and with what money? I'm just a rural cattle farmer with 1 high school kid and another in college. I don't have the money to hire an attorney. Especially not one that can take on a multi billion dollar company's legal department.

Also, let's assume that the pollution and contamination doesn't bother me. Or it's affecting an area of my property that isn't really a concern of mine. Does that make it okay for the company to pollute my back yard? If I own 1000 acres of land and PG&E offers me a billion dollars to dump poison on my land, is that okay? Is that legal?
If you have proof that your cattle are dying because of the toxins you don't need a lawyer, you can file it yourself. If you let them dump on your land for a fee then who cares. If however that toxic waste dump leached to other peoples property then YOU can rightfully sued.

germanyt
02-27-2012, 11:22 AM
The company will not want to go to court because of the bad publicity. They will want to settle out of court. Ask for three times more than you need to move to buy another property, restock your herd, and pay your medical expenses or whatever your attorney thinks you should demand, and also stipulate that they need to immediately stop the pollution and clean up or purchase your polluted property or you will go public. Many attorneys will take a case like this for a portion of the settlement without billing you up front at all. Settle for no less than 1.5 times what you need to get yourself back to where you started.

That's sounds like it would work in this situation. I'm trying to think of others. What if this doesn't go smoothly though. In the end, without the EPA there is no last stand against pollution. There is no agency willing to take big time cases to federal courts if they don't comply. There certainly have to be some hidden negatives in not having that.

Wouldn't it make more sense to revisit our current environmental laws and stramline the EPA to make it function better?

What about endangered species? Does anything changed in reagards to their protection or the prosecution of violators with no EPA?

RabbitMan
02-27-2012, 11:24 AM
My question is, how is this any different from cap-and-trade. Pollute and buy carbon credits.

But seriously though, this would not be an issue in a Ron Paul presidency because he doesn't plan on dismantling the EPA. Problem solved?

germanyt
02-27-2012, 11:25 AM
If you have proof that your cattle are dying because of the toxins you don't need a lawyer, you can file it yourself. If you let them dump on your land for a fee then who cares. If however that toxic waste dump leached to other peoples property then YOU can rightfully sued.

Well I haven't exactly examined the wasted on my land or had blood tests done on my cows. That's expensive. But since they started unloading trucks at my property line the plants back there have died and my cattle are sick and dying. The attorney in town says he doesn't have the resources to handle a case against a billion dollar company pro bono. He suggested I contact whatever regulatory agency montiors this type of pollution. Unfortunately......................

The Free Hornet
02-27-2012, 11:26 AM
If the polluter is half the price though, what makes you think they would go out of business? Because they are spending less money on cleaning up their process they offer power at substantially lower costs than the next company. PG&E just being the name used as the example. If the land they are polluting is their own then what's to stop them? And I still have dead cattle and no money for an attorney.

The premise is that they are polluting your land. What they do with their land is not your concern (until it causes personal or property damage beyond their ownership, which it has in your scenario).

First, understand that the EPA is an example of Congressional preemption ("Under the doctrine of federal preemption, Congress may nullify state laws, including common law tort duties, in order to ensure national regulatory uniformity or to achieve other federal objectives." Source (http://www.appellate.net/articles/noncompliance.asp)). If this utility is obeying EPA law, you may be out of luck unless you can prove they are violating some arbitrary Federal limit. What a "Ron Paul administration" might do is - eventually - return more authority to the states so you can seek compensation in local court or - barring that - lobby your state officials for suitable changes.

I would summarize potential positive changes as

1) more local authority
2) ability to sue for damages

germanyt
02-27-2012, 11:27 AM
My question is, how is this any different from cap-and-trade. Pollute and buy carbon credits.

But seriously though, this would not be an issue in a Ron Paul presidency because he doesn't plan on dismantling the EPA. Problem solved?

Well, I understand it's not a priority of his but that doesn't mean he won't apply the same small government principles to an agency that we all know is not outlined in the Constitution. I'm an atheist and post in forums with a large number of liberals. I discuss Ron Paul policy quite often as politics and religion are topics of interest but I found myself stuck in the mud (so to speak) when it came to RP's environmental policy. I had to scratch my head and say 'Ya know, I don't know how that would work'. So here I am.

Working Poor
02-27-2012, 11:28 AM
I am pretty sure that most attorneys who file case like this will work on a contingency

The Free Hornet
02-27-2012, 11:29 AM
My question is, how is this any different from cap-and-trade. Pollute and buy carbon credits.

But seriously though, this would not be an issue in a Ron Paul presidency because he doesn't plan on dismantling the EPA. Problem solved?

Unless he plans on dismantling the EPA, then it is Ron Paul's problem. The premise/idea/goal is to get the Federal government out of these matters as they are beholden to international interests, not local interests. That said, maybe this utility is doing something that would irk the EPA or maybe all their paperwork is in order.

Added: This is nothing like "cap-and-trade". First, CO2 is not a pollutant. Second, if it were, it is not the type of pollutant that would cause damage that is both local and quantifiable. The hypothetical is a clear cut example of neighbor A damaging the property of neighbor B.

If CO2 is a problem and it is a problem we can address globally (the only approach that is meaningful based on the premise of the environmentalists), then it may be best approached as a "tragedy of the commons" issue or "who owns the atmosphere?" question. Unless the atmosphere is thought of as private property - in some limited sense - then there may be no good metaphor to address the issue.

klamath
02-27-2012, 11:31 AM
Well I haven't exactly examined the wasted on my land or had blood tests done on my cows. That's expensive. But since they started unloading trucks at my property line the plants back there have died and my cattle are sick and dying. The attorney in town says he doesn't have the resources to handle a case against a billion dollar company pro bono. He suggested I contact whatever regulatory agency montiors this type of pollution. Unfortunately......................
The cattlemens association would probably help you out in testing the dead cattle. The last thing other cattle growers want is a desease spreading through their herds if it is not the toxins. You cannot convict someone on preceived harm, you have to have proof that real harm has been done to you.

Icymudpuppy
02-27-2012, 11:32 AM
That's sounds like it would work in this situation. I'm trying to think of others. What if this doesn't go smoothly though. In the end, without the EPA there is no last stand against pollution. There is no agency willing to take big time cases to federal courts if they don't comply. There certainly have to be some hidden negatives in not having that.

Your attorney's job is to take it to the courts. As mentioned, that is REALLY bad for the company. Little guys usually win big in court. Think Erin Brokovich. Robert Kearns. etc. No agency helped in those cases.

germanyt
02-27-2012, 11:34 AM
The premise is that they are polluting your land. What they do with their land is not your concern (until it causes personal or property damage beyond their ownership, which it has in your scenario).

First, understand that the EPA is an example of Congressional preemption ("Under the doctrine of federal preemption, Congress may nullify state laws, including common law tort duties, in order to ensure national regulatory uniformity or to achieve other federal objectives." Source (http://www.appellate.net/articles/noncompliance.asp)). If this utility is obeying EPA law, you may be out of luck unless you can prove they are violating some arbitrary Federal limit. What a "Ron Paul administration" might do is - eventually - return more authority to the states so you can seek compensation in local court or - barring that - lobby your state officials for suitable changes.

I would summarize potential positive changes as

1) more local authority
2) ability to sue for damages

I'll reply to the first sentence first. I get property rights. Believe me, I'm a fan. But what if, as a liberal (I'm not but many are) I have a deep commitment to the environment and although the pollution isn't affecting my land I feel it necessary to regulate their activities. Not in a 'government control your life' kind of way but just because I don't want to see a patch of land destroyed that once contained natural habitats for squirrels, birds, etc. I just dont' want the company to kill the land and it's animals (inadvertantly) leaving nothing but wasteland once the company either sells, goes out of business, moves to another location, etc.


Second part. So all environmental laws passed by Congress remain? States enforce thier laws unless someone is proven to be in compliance with state but in violation of federal? I'm not sure I understand the benefit of handing the regulatory responsibility to the states.

germanyt
02-27-2012, 11:37 AM
Your attorney's job is to take it to the courts. As mentioned, that is REALLY bad for the company. Little guys usually win big in court. Think Erin Brokovich. Robert Kearns. etc. No agency helped in those cases.

My what if question is 'What if a large law firm doesn't back up the small town guy?' Some cases that involve chemical testing and, really any scientific or investigative work can get very expensive. If the local lawyer simply cannot take this case to court what happens. Does the state sue the company since the EPA isn't there to step in anymore?

Where does the buck stop? And does the EPA really need to be gone. Are they not serving a good purpose as long as it's within reason and budget?

Icymudpuppy
02-27-2012, 11:43 AM
My what if question is 'What if a large law firm doesn't back up the small town guy?' Some cases that involve chemical testing and, really any scientific or investigative work can get very expensive. If the local lawyer simply cannot take this case to court what happens. Does the state sue the company since the EPA isn't there to step in anymore?

Where does the buck stop? And does the EPA really need to be gone. Are they not serving a good purpose as long as it's within reason and budget?

neither of my two examples had ANY assistance from either a law firm, or a state agency. Testing, as mentioned above by another poster would probably be given at no charge by the local cattlemen's association, and I'm sure your medical records from the hospital would have admissible data on toxins in your blood. Water testing for toxins can be privately obtained from any water quality laboratory for about $60. I'd donate that to the cause personally.

Erin Brokovich's case was almost identical in terms of circumstances. Except minus the cattle.

RabbitMan
02-27-2012, 11:45 AM
Well, I understand it's not a priority of his but that doesn't mean he won't apply the same small government principles to an agency that we all know is not outlined in the Constitution. I'm an atheist and post in forums with a large number of liberals. I discuss Ron Paul policy quite often as politics and religion are topics of interest but I found myself stuck in the mud (so to speak) when it came to RP's environmental policy. I had to scratch my head and say 'Ya know, I don't know how that would work'. So here I am.

Makes sense. I'm agnostic and live in Seattle, so I getcha. He has answered a couple times that the federal gov't could have a role in problems concerning interstate or international pollution. As someone else has stated though, his ideal would be to leave the nitty-gritty bits of environmental policy to the States. Explaining liberal-leftist positions in a 10th Amendment focus has been the single greatest tool I've used for converting Democrats reluctant about his domestic positions. "You really want Single-Payer healthcare? Get it enacted at the State level where it is LEGAL under the Constitution and MUCH easier to lobby and get things done." or "You really want super environmental standards? Get it created in your state, using the federal govt as the intermediary in an interstate dispute. Done."

Once libs understand the immense value of decentralization and the incredible potential initiative they are able to take on State level matters, they lower their guard a lot and become much more responsive to the message of liberty.

germanyt
02-27-2012, 11:52 AM
neither of my two examples had ANY assistance from either a law firm, or a state agency. Testing, as mentioned above by another poster would probably be given at no charge by the local cattlemen's association, and I'm sure your medical records from the hospital would have admissible data on toxins in your blood. Water testing for toxins can be privately obtained from any water quality laboratory for about $60. I'd donate that to the cause personally.

Erin Brokovich's case was almost identical in terms of circumstances. Except minus the cattle.

And if Erin wasn't around? What would have happened to PG&E? And to the people of that town? If there were no EPA. Who would find the proof that the company was at fault?

Perhaps I'm unaware of what exactly the EPA does and doesn't do.

germanyt
02-27-2012, 11:56 AM
Makes sense. I'm agnostic and live in Seattle, so I getcha. He has answered a couple times that the federal gov't could have a role in problems concerning interstate or international pollution. As someone else has stated though, his ideal would be to leave the nitty-gritty bits of environmental policy to the States. Explaining liberal-leftist positions in a 10th Amendment focus has been the single greatest tool I've used for converting Democrats reluctant about his domestic positions. "You really want Single-Payer healthcare? Get it enacted at the State level where it is LEGAL under the Constitution and MUCH easier to lobby and get things done." or "You really want super environmental standards? Get it created in your state, using the federal govt as the intermediary in an interstate dispute. Done."

Once libs understand the immense value of decentralization and the incredible potential initiative they are able to take on State level matters, they lower their guard a lot and become much more responsive to the message of liberty.

I see what you mean. I guess I just am wary of corporations potentially paying off property owners while they destroy the environment at their will. One day that company won't be there and that land may be a hundred years or more from being useful. Not too mention, many many companies and people have animals that live on their property.

Icymudpuppy
02-27-2012, 12:04 PM
And if Erin wasn't around? What would have happened to PG&E? And to the people of that town? If there were no EPA. Who would find the proof that the company was at fault?

Perhaps I'm unaware of what exactly the EPA does and doesn't do.

THE EPA makes regulations that force small businesses out of the market because only large corporations have the infrastructure to handle the paperwork and compliance permits. The EPA then protects the corporation by issuing them a permit saying they are in compliance with EPA regulations. At that point, the EPA has done their fascist job of squeezing out the little guys at the behest of the appropriate congressional committeeman who gets bankrolled for re-election by the lobbyists for the big corporations. THEY DO NOT FIGHT FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE BEING HURT DESPITE REGULATIONS. Erin was just a concerned citizen. She was the first to start fighting. ANY concerned citizen can do it.

germanyt
02-27-2012, 12:09 PM
So what type of changes would we see from the day before the EPA is gone to the day after? Is it safe to say that it will be seamless and almost unnoticable? Are any good aspects of the EPA lost once it is gone or just trasferred to another state/agency/individual?

Icymudpuppy
02-27-2012, 12:17 PM
So what type of changes would we see from the day before the EPA is gone to the day after? Is it safe to say that it will be seamless and almost unnoticable? Are any good aspects of the EPA lost once it is gone or just trasferred to another state/agency/individual?

Most EPA enforcement is already done at the state level anyway. Most regulations by the EPA have clone regulations at the state level by state Departments of Ecology, Wildlife, Natural Resources, etc. There would be no noticeable change right away. In the long run, some of those regulations passed at the state level would be changed to suit a more local approach rather than being uniform across the nation because of federal regulation. Fascism can still be achieved at the state level, but you won't see many wyoming state legislators bowing to a California corporation when their constituency is holding them accountable at the local level.

Paul Fan
02-27-2012, 12:23 PM
Exactly. Many people don't realize that the EPA basically gives big companies a license to pollute, and right now there isn't much that the states can do.

germanyt
02-27-2012, 12:26 PM
Interesting. I'll continue to research this issue but will pass along what I've read here. I'd see the forum has reputation but it appears I can't rep anyone. Toll low a post count maybe?

fisharmor
02-27-2012, 12:38 PM
I'll reply to the first sentence first. I get property rights. Believe me, I'm a fan. But what if, as a liberal (I'm not but many are) I have a deep commitment to the environment and although the pollution isn't affecting my land I feel it necessary to regulate their activities. Not in a 'government control your life' kind of way but just because I don't want to see a patch of land destroyed that once contained natural habitats for squirrels, birds, etc. I just dont' want the company to kill the land and it's animals (inadvertantly) leaving nothing but wasteland once the company either sells, goes out of business, moves to another location, etc.

The thing you need to understand about property rights is that it actually is the best protection of the environment.
If a logger doesn't own the property he's logging, what impetus is there for him to log with sustainable methods?
Is he going to treat that timber as a renewable resource that he can come back to in 20 years for another harvest, or is he going to treat it like people treat any rental property?
Have you ever rented a car that was more than two years old? I never have - because there isn't a car made that can last longer than that through people beating the crap out of them.
The same concept applies to land.

Your "leaving nothing but wasteland" applies only to scenarios where the state owns the land and leases it to corporations that are after a particular resource and no others.
Loggers have no interest in the groundwater, miners have no interest in the timber, etc. But an owner is going to try to milk that land for every potential cent - and turning it into wasteland is flushing money down the toilet.
If you buy a parcel of land for $100k, and extract $150k of resources from it, after which it's a wasteland worth $10k, how does that make sense?
Do property owners not have incentive to keep the resale value as high as (or higher than!) it was at time of purchase?

Consider also that people don't have property right at all in most of the country. If you buy a piece of property in an urban setting, you're pretty much guaranteed not to own the property, but to be in a relationship with the county or state where you need to pay them a yearly sum (in the form of property taxes) or else you lose your "property". In that urban setting the RENT you're paying on that land is ridiculous compared to rural settings.
What is the incentive for developers to rent land in cities, as opposed to rural settings? If I'm building a factory, am I going to build it on a parcel where the rent is insane, where bureaucrats are going to fight me every step of the way, and operating costs after it's built are going to spiral out of control?
Or, am I going to find a nice plot of fairly virgin wilderness, rape it for resources, pave it, and put my factory there - which further requires utilities, and will inevitably encourage suburbs to start paving over the surrounding area as infrastructure for employees?
Violation of property right is what chases business out of cities and into undeveloped areas in the first place.

And as far as moving somewhere else: that is the one and only reason they move. Most American cities are, in point of fact, wastelands at this point. Drive through the northeast and you're going to get treated to monument after monument testifying to those cities' former greatness. Why are there abandoned warehouses and factories in every major city in the US? WHY?
It's not because the property owners up and decided to move elsewhere. Not by a million miles. Business owners didn't just up and decide to start paving over random sections of woods. They were actively chased out.

Lastly, in a free market economy which respected property right, environmentalists can simply band together and buy the land they want to protect. This actually happens today in our unfree market economy. It's not only possible but actively happening.
How much more effective it would be, if 50% of our incomes weren't confiscated for, among other things, paying a bureaucrat to decide how to parcel out existing stands of timber to be turned into wasteland...

The Free Hornet
02-27-2012, 03:05 PM
I'll reply to the first sentence first. I get property rights. Believe me, I'm a fan. But what if, as a liberal (I'm not but many are) I have a deep commitment to the environment and although the pollution isn't affecting my land I feel it necessary to regulate their activities. Not in a 'government control your life' kind of way but just because I don't want to see a patch of land destroyed that once contained natural habitats for squirrels, birds, etc. I just dont' want the company to kill the land and it's animals (inadvertantly) leaving nothing but wasteland once the company either sells, goes out of business, moves to another location, etc.
You have moved the goalposts enough that this is a different topic. BTW, this would be a casebook example of "a 'government control your life' kind of way". They never come out an say "we want to control your life". That is the end result but not the stated goal.


Second part. So all environmental laws passed by Congress remain? States enforce thier laws unless someone is proven to be in compliance with state but in violation of federal? I'm not sure I understand the benefit of handing the regulatory responsibility to the states.

State sovereignty means Congress would have few or no laws beyond what is necessary to resolve disputes crossing state lines. There is no benefit to giving regulatory authority to anybody. Rather, think of it as a whatever-is-least-harmful approach.

You have no say regarding what goes on in Washington DC. Your Senator (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventeenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constit ution) and Rep are beholden to the same international interests. You have even less control of the Presidency. On the other hand, locally, you are very powerful and can sway issues - assuming the Federal government hasn't preempted them as they have with 90% of the power. Locally, I can vote for dozens of positions often every year but where is the real power? We have no voice in who implements Federal power. How do your liberal friends feel about having no vote for US Attorney General or Treasury Secretary? We have no power over the Federal Government which was designed to have little-to-no power over us.

rpwi
03-03-2012, 09:43 AM
Something to keep in mind is Ron's administration would not stop states (as opposed to feds) from passing environmental regulations. I'm sure if you asked Ron, he would of course bring up the lawsuit option but would mention this is also a local issue and would acknowledge his administration wouldn't stop states from regulating this. Many libertarians acknowledge that market externalities exists...and that government has a role is regulating them...but not the federal government (although I think environmental problems that cross state lines should be ok for the feds to regulate under the interstate commerce clause).

Something else to keep in mind is that the US is a large country...and in many ways our states are as large and as populated as many countries. These countries don't have a collective EPA...yet have environmental regulations. State governments can and should be good stewards of the environment IMO.

I don't like the idea of getting rid of the EPA immediately though...create a proper transition period instead. Get rid of the fluff like education and such...but the stuff like handling nuclear waste and all...we can't drop the ball on that.