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View Full Version : Environment: Hey guys, I'd appreciate some help on environmental issues from critics




RonRocks
06-16-2012, 03:51 PM
I know Dr. Paul is not for eliminating the EPA...in the short run. But critics always bring it up as something that Libertarians believe in doing eventually. Now, I've been fending off some opposition in a forum for days, but all the research has drained me and I'm not as eloquent on legal issues as others are. Now, I say that the environment should be handled under property rights and people, either with a class action or with lobbying the city should use the courts to file suit. Someone brought up..well what if it is an isolated town where no one lives? I said it shouldn't matter because lawsuits can be filed anywhere. Now here's the latest response. Now, just as a reminder..I'm not totally clueless to the answers, I'd just like to give eloquent and well put answers so they can't play 'gotcha', lol.

Here's the post:


1. Why would people from far away file a suit? As I said, pollution is generally a local issue.
2. I would think a small group of people filing suit against a billion dollar company probably wouldn't go well. Just a hunch though.
3. Who would pay for all these law suits? What would prevent a company from going to a lower income area to exploit the lack of resistance due to lack of money?
4. What would prevent a company from knowingly acting irresponsibly for years, losing a law suit and filing bankruptcy to stick the public with the mess? A legal judgement doesn't clean up the damage (and yes, I'm aware of the EPA Superfund sites that exist due to this same issue).
I can't finance a legal battle against a Fortune 500 company.

At least the EPA is indirectly controlled by the people. I know it's not the most effective way of handling this but I really don't see how turning this over the corporations and saying "sue if you don't like it" is a reasonable solution or even an improvement.

How many countries have successfully enacted what you're proposing for a solution?

Any help is appreciated, I've been fending off about a dozen statists and I'm a bit exhausted dealing with them :p

__________________

Weston White
06-16-2012, 08:43 PM
I hope this helps a bit:


1. Why would people from far away file a suit? As I said, pollution is generally a local issue.

Polluting is a tort that creates a public nuisance and would require a public official to file suit, save for if (1) the pollution has affected or impacted you directly (effectively becoming a private nuisance) or (2) you or others (through a class-action) have civil tort claims for damages as a result of the pollution, e.g., cancer, birth defects, loss of income, property damage, etc.

And to answer the question with a more obvious question, if pollution is a local issue, why then is a national EPA needed at all?



2. I would think a small group of people filing suit against a billion dollar company probably wouldn't go well. Just a hunch though.

While a suit filed by any local or state public attorney should, at the very least, give such a company a nice reality-check.


3. Who would pay for all these law suits? What would prevent a company from going to a lower income area to exploit the lack of resistance due to lack of money?

The taxpayers within that locale of course, and when the public attorney receives an award of damages, the public treasury should also be compensated for all related court costs and fees as apart of that award.



4. What would prevent a company from knowingly acting irresponsibly for years, losing a law suit and filing bankruptcy to stick the public with the mess? A legal judgement doesn't clean up the damage (and yes, I'm aware of the EPA Superfund sites that exist due to this same issue).

Corruption in government as a result of decades of lobbying and bureaucratic “mission creep”.

True the company could in fact file bankruptcy, while having prior sheltered its assets and its board-members, officers, and executives could go on to live a very wealthy life elsewhere. Though as well, the government within that locale could then begin looking at bringing criminal charges involving conspiracy, etc., personally, against those very same individuals.

The courts have power of equitability, so it could be ordered that either the company do things such as (1) cleanup their messes and right their wrong, (2) pay for the costs involved in the cleanup o their messes, (3) appropriately amend their company policies, practices, safety protocols, etc., (4) revoke or modify their business licenses or privileges, or otherwise shut them down, etc. Other than that the “clean up” of the “damage” involved is purely monetary in nature.



I can't finance a legal battle against a Fortune 500 company.

The same could be stated about any governmental agency, such as the EPA, FCC, FDA, DHS, or IRS, for example; each one holding endless sums of resources to serve as funding to a massively sized staff that is interwoven into the boundless (and frequently de facto) officialism of government empowerment over mere private citizenry and individuals.



At least the EPA is indirectly controlled by the people. I know it's not the most effective way of handling this but I really don't see how turning this over the corporations and saying "sue if you don't like it" is a reasonable solution or even an improvement.
Honestly, that is pretty much the way it is now, the EPA is free to pick and choose any issue it desires, it can turn its head and ignore certain companies, while specifically targeting other companies; meanwhile making backroom deals, etc. Until a supermajority (2/3) of “the 535” (Congress and the Senate) actually speaks up and states otherwise (or also SCOTUS), the EPA is controlled only by the Executive Branch of government (including its own Regulations) and not “the people”. So, don’t even bother fooling yourself, the only controlling being done on such matters is by the EPA (following its authority established under ‘federal preemption’ –that is the Supremacy Clause).



How many countries have successfully enacted what you're proposing for a solution?

I am not sure what this is actually referring to, though just become something has not been successful in the present does not make it, through a default, wrong or bad, or otherwise certify that the current method is proper, constitutional, or the best and only way to be achieved.

Also, other countries do not hold the well-founded and spirited maxims and birthright that our United States of America does (or at least is suppose to be upholding); they do not hold reverence to our founding documents and of our limited national government and individual sovereignty of statehood, viz., Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and moreover including our appreciation and promised guarantee of a common law republican form of government, founded upon Christian theology.

Furthermore, it should be noticed, that our national government has in fact been hijacked by individuals possessing, largely a progressive mindset, holding a varied desire and appreciation only for the advancement of austerity, corporatism, eugenics, internationalism, privatization, and socialism.

thequietkid10
06-16-2012, 08:49 PM
1. Why would people from far away file a suit? As I said, pollution is generally a local issue.
2. I would think a small group of people filing suit against a billion dollar company probably wouldn't go well. Just a hunch though.
3. Who would pay for all these law suits? What would prevent a company from going to a lower income area to exploit the lack of resistance due to lack of money?
4. What would prevent a company from knowingly acting irresponsibly for years, losing a law suit and filing bankruptcy to stick the public with the mess? A legal judgement doesn't clean up the damage (and yes, I'm aware of the EPA Superfund sites that exist due to this same issue).
I can't finance a legal battle against a Fortune 500 company.

I feel like I"m not the best person to answer this but I can give it a shot.

For questions 1 and 3, there are thousands of environment groups and people who are environmentally minded. Further more, many firms won't charge unless they win the case.

2. Is hard, in Buffalo we just had a doctor get off on hit and run charges, he was drinking before and claims he didn't see the 17 year old girl, in a bright green shirt. Jury let him go, EVERYONE was furious.

4. Is simple, bankruptcy settlements should prioritize lawsuits to be first to pay out. Investors who go out of business because of a lawsuit won't get very many new creditors.

RonRocks
06-16-2012, 10:11 PM
Thanks to both of you.. I've learned quite a lot, and I'm more confident than ever logic is pretty much on our side. I posted a response, summarizing both of your remarks along with a few of mine. Lets see how it goes!

Weston White
06-16-2012, 10:20 PM
Good point on the bankruptcy aspects, while also liens can be used as a claim upon property in holding during the course of a lawsuit. The larger issue is the use of “safe havens”, such as is the case for states like Florida or the “off-shoring” of financial assets or use of foreign asset holding companies and subsidiaries, etc. Combine that with the use of leased primary places of businesses, expensive machinery, vehicles, etc., and in the end all that is left is a bunch of outdated, used up office furniture and equipment.

Exavier
06-17-2012, 03:08 AM
1: If the people have reason to believe that the pollution in their area is affecting their health negatively then they will most likely file suit.

2: Not true. A lot of smaller people have filed lawsuits against big corporations and had success. One example of lack of government help is a farmer who's crops were containment by Monsanto GMO crops. It took him years but he beat them in a legal battle.

3: If enough people get together to file a lawsuit it can work. People file class action lawsuits against companies rather often.

4: A legal judgment can force companies to pay for clean up of all damages.

Biggest thing that I would point out is that how the EPA, USDA and other places are basically a failure and there's a mountain of proof showing how the EPA lets places like Monsanto run wild even when research has shown that things such as roundup are having a massively bad effect on things such as the bee population. The EPA is simply to big spending over 10 billion a year for very little to show for it. Most of what he's proposing could be managed at the state level government for far cheaper.

RonRocks
06-17-2012, 06:06 PM
Thank you Exavier for more good points. Another thing I found out is that the whole perception of big corporations polluting the most is just that... a perception. The biggest polluters in this country is the Govt. Both local and federal govt pollutes the waters and the air more than the Fortune 500. And they have given themselves protection from being sued which is called 'sovereign immunity', basically saying the rules don't apply to us. So, the solution has to come from outside the govt with the first step being removing this sovereign immunity bs.

Here's more info on the LP webpage:

http://www.lp.org/issues/environment

r123
09-30-2013, 12:04 PM
I called Paul up on the campaign trail in Iowa to get the skinny on how the environment figures into his small-government agenda.
What makes you the strongest candidate on energy and the environment?
On energy, I would say that the reliance on the government to devise a policy is a fallacy. I would advocate that the free market take care of that. The government shouldnít be directing research and development because they are bound and determined to always misdirect money to political cronies. The government ends up subsidizing things like the corn industry to develop ethanol and it turns out that itís not economically feasible. So, my answer to energy is to let the market work. Let supply and demand make the decision. Let prices make the decision. That is completely different than the bureaucratic and cronyism approach.
On environment, governments donít have a good reputation for doing a good job protecting the environment. If you look at the extreme of socialism or communism, they were very poor environmentalists. Private property owners have a much better record of taking care of the environment. If you look at the common ownership of the lands in the West, theyíre much more poorly treated than those that are privately owned. In a free-market system, nobody is permitted to pollute their neighborís private property ó water, air, or land. It is very strict.
But there are realms of the environment that, by definition, canít be owned, right? How would you divide the sky or the sea into private parcels?
The air can certainly be identified. If you have a mill next door to me, you donít have a right to pollute my air ó that can be properly defined by property rights. Water: if youíre on a river you certainly can define it, if youíre on a lake you certainly can define it. Even oceans can be defined by international agreements. You can be very strict with it. If it is air that crosses a boundary between Canada and the United States, you would have to have two governments come together, voluntarily solving these problems.
Can you elaborate on when government intervention is and isnít appropriate?
Certainly, any time thereís injury to another person, another personís land, or another personís environment, thereís [legal] recourse with the government.
What do you see as the role of the Environmental Protection Agency?
You wouldnít need it. Environmental protection in the U.S. should function according to the same premise as ďprior restraintĒ in a newspaper. Newspapers canít print anything thatís a lie. There has to be recourse. But you donít invite the government in to review every single thing that the print media does with the assumption they might do something wrong. The EPA assumes you might do something wrong; itís a bureaucratic, intrusive approach and it favors those who have political connections.
Would you dissolve the EPA?
Itís not high on my agenda. Iím trying to stop the war, and bring back a sound economy, and solve the financial crises, and balance the budget.
Is it appropriate for the government to regulate toxic or dangerous materials, like lead in childrenís toys?
If a toy company is doing something dangerous, theyíre liable and they should be held responsible. The government should hold them responsible, but not be the inspector. The government canít inspect every single toy that comes into the country.
So you see it as the legal system that brings about environmental protection?
Right. Some of this stuff can be handled locally with a government. I was raised in the city of Pittsburgh. It was the filthiest city in the country because it was a steel town. You couldnít even see the sun on a sunny day. Then it was cleaned up ó not by the EPA, by local authorities that said you donít have a right to pollute ó and the government cleaned it up and the cityís a beautiful city. You donít need this huge bureaucracy thatís remote from the problem. Pittsburgh dealt with it in a local fashion and it worked out quite well.
What if youíre part of a community thatís getting dumped on, but you donít have the time or the money to sue the offending polluter?
Imagine that everyone living in one suburb, rather than using regular trash service, were taking their household trash to the next town over and simply tossing it in the yards of those living in the nearby town. Is there any question that legal mechanisms are in place to remedy this action? In principle, your concerns are no different, except that, for a good number of years, legislatures and courts have failed to enforce the property rights of those being dumped on with respect to certain forms of pollution. This form of government failure has persisted since the industrial revolution when, in the name of so-called progress, certain forms of pollution were legally tolerated or ignored to benefit some popular regional employer or politically popular entity.
When all forms of physical trespass, be that smoke, particulate matter, etc., are legally recognized for what they are ó a physical trespass upon the property and rights of another ó concerns about difficulty in suing the offending party will be largely diminished. When any such cases are known to be slam-dunk wins for the person whose property is being polluted, those doing the polluting will no longer persist in doing so. Against a backdrop of property rights actually enforced, contingency and class-action cases are additional legal mechanisms that resolve this concern.
You mentioned that you donít support subsidies for the development of energy technologies. If all subsidies were removed from the energy sector, what do you think would happen to alternative energy industries like solar, wind, and ethanol?
Whoever can offer the best product at the best price, thatís what people will use. They just have to do this without damaging the environment.
If weíre running out of hydrocarbon, the price will go up. If we had a crisis tomorrow [that cut our oil supply in half], people would drive half as much ó something would happen immediately. Somebody would come up with alternative fuels rather quickly.
Today, the government decides and they misdirect the investment to their friends in the corn industry or the food industry. Think how many taxpayer dollars have been spent on corn [for ethanol], and thereís nobody now really defending that as an efficient way to create diesel fuel or ethanol. The money is spent for political reasons and not for economic reasons. Itís the worst way in the world to try to develop an alternative fuel.
But often the cheapest energy sources, which the market would naturally select for, are also the most environmentally harmful. How would you address this?
Your question is based on a false premise and a false definition of ďmarketĒ that is quite understandable under the current legal framework. A true market system would internalize the costs of pollution on the producer. In other words, the ďcheapest energy sources,Ē as you call them, are only cheap because currently the costs of the environmental harm you identify are not being included or internalized, as economists would say, into the cheap energy sources.
To the extent property rights are strictly enforced against those who would pollute the land or air of another, the costs of any environmental harm associated with an energy source would be imposed upon the producer of that energy source, and, in so doing, the cheap sources that pollute are not so cheap anymore.
Whatís your take on global warming? Is it a serious problem and one thatís human-caused?
I think some of it is related to human activities, but I donít think thereís a conclusion yet. Thereís a lot of evidence on both sides of that argument. If you study the history, weíve had a lot of climate changes. Weíve had hot spells and cold spells. They come and go. If there are weather changes, weíre not going to be very good at regulating the weather.
To assume we have to close down everything in this country and in the world because thereís a fear that weíre going to have this global warming and that weíre going to be swallowed up by the oceans, I think thatís extreme. I donít buy into that. Yet, I think itís a worthy discussion.
So you donít consider climate change a major problem threatening civilization?
No. [Laughs.] I think war and financial crises and big governments marching into our homes and elimination of habeas corpus ó those are immediate threats. Weíre about to lose our whole country and whole republic! If we can be declared an enemy combatant and put away without a trial, then thatís going to affect a lot of us a lot sooner than the temperature going up.
What, if anything, do you think the government should do about global warming?
They should enforce the principles of private property so that we donít emit poisons and contribute to it.
And, if other countries are doing it, we should do our best to try to talk them out of doing what might be harmful. We canít use our army to go to China and dictate to China about the pollution that they may be contributing. You can only use persuasion.
You have voiced strong opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. Can you see supporting a different kind of international treaty to address global warming?
It would all depend. I think negotiation and talk and persuasion are worthwhile, but treaties that have law enforcement agencies that force certain countries to do things, I donít think that would work.
You believe that ultimately private interests will solve global warming?
I think theyíre more capable of it than politicians.
Whatís your position on a carbon tax?
I donít like that. Thatís sort of legalizing pollution. If itís wrong, you can buy these permits, so to speak. Itís wrong to do it, it shouldnít be allowed.
Do you think it should be illegal to emit harmful pollutants?
You should be held responsible in a court of law and you should be able to be closed down if youíre damaging your neighborís property in any way whatsoever.
Who would set the law about what pollutants could and couldnít be emitted? Congress?
Not under my presidency ó the Congress wouldnít do it. The people who claim damage would have to say, look, Iím sitting here, and these poisons are coming over, and I can prove it, and I want it stopped, and I want compensation.
Youíve described your opposition to wars for oil as an example of your support for eco-friendly policies. Can you elaborate?
Generally speaking, war causes pollution ó uranium, burning of fuel for no good purpose. The Pentagon burns more fuel than the whole country of Sweden.
Do you support the goal of energy independence in the U.S.?
Sure. But independence does not mean to me that we produce everything. I donít believe governments have to provide every single ounce of energy. I see independence as having no government-mandated policy: If you need oil or energy, you can buy it.
What about being independent from the Middle East, so weíre not buying oil from hostile countries?
I think itís irrelevant. We wouldnít be buying it directly, we would be buying it on the world market. I donít think the goal has to be that we produce alternative fuel so that we never buy oil from the Middle East. The goal should be to provide all useful services and goods through a market mechanism instead of central economic planning or world planning. That system doesnít work.
What role do you think coal should play in Americaís energy future?
Coal is a source of energy and it should be used, but it has to be used without ever hurting anybody. I think weíre smart enough to do it. Technology is improving all the time. If oil goes to $150 a barrel because weíve bombed Iran, coal might be something that we can become more independent with. I think technology is super, and we are capable of knowing how to use coal without polluting other peopleís property.
But coal technology has been proven to harm people ó with poisons like mercury and asthma-causing particulates ó so should old-style coal plants be allowed to continue operating?
Use of the technology I mentioned to prevent harm to people, even if it costs more for the coal producer, is another example of how costs must be internalized to the energy source. To the extent coal can be efficiently produced in a way that does not pollute anotherís property or anotherís physical body, it will be chosen as a viable energy source. Certainly no producer of energy or anything else has a right to pollute or harm anotherís property or person.
If coal is not competitively priced when all costs to keep production safe are internalized to the producer, then coal will not be purchased or produced. I do not happen to believe this will be the case, but it is for the market to sort out, not politicians in Washington. It may be that, from time to time, as other energy sources become scarce, ďsafe coalĒ will be viable even if it is not at some other point in time.
Whatís your take on nuclear?
I think nuclear is great; I think itís the safest form of energy we have.
Ethanol?
I donít think anythingís wrong with ethanol ó itís just not economically competitive. Itís only competitive now because those who produce it get subsidies.
What environmental achievement are you most proud of?
Nothing really special, other than trying to explain to people that you donít need government expenditures and special-interest politics to promote safe, environmental types of energy. That comes about through a free-market system and a lot less government, and I think thatís the most important thing I can contribute.
You mentioned something in a past interview (http://www.teamliberty.net/id447.html) ó the Green Scissors campaign (http://www.greenscissors.org/) to cut environmentally harmful spending?
Iím not sure I understand that. Green Party?
You had said in another interview, ďI have been active in the Green Scissors campaign.Ē (http://www.teamliberty.net/id447.html)
Green Citizens?
No, scissors, like you cut paper with.
Oh, I donít recall exactly that. But I have a lot of environmentalists that work with me very closely and support these issues.
Who is your environmental hero?
Nobody in particular.
If you could spend a week in a park or natural area in the United States, where would it be?
Thereís probably hundreds of places. I probably have gone to Colorado more than any place, around Telluride and Ouray.
Can you describe your connection to the natural world? Have you had any memorable outdoor or wilderness adventures?
My favorite thing is riding bicycles, and at home my hobby is raising tomatoes. I live on the San Bernard River in Texas and I belong to an environmental group that works very, very hard to protect the natural aspects of that river.
Can you elaborate on what youíve done personally to reduce your energy and environmental impact?
Well, no, other than the fact that Iím just always aware of doing anything damaging to the environment. I donít think I do anything that damages it at all. I donít ride my bike because I think Iím destroying the environment by driving my car; I ride it because itís a great way to be outdoors and enjoy the environment: http://grist.org/article/paul1/