We generally oppose expropriation, which often results in environmental harm. We believe that voluntary agreements more fully internalize costs, protect the environment, and ensure economic efficiency.
The Principle in Practice
- Probe International also cautions environmentalists in other countries where citizens hope that environmental impact assessments will give them the tools to stop environmentally dangerous projects. Unfortunately, the experience in Canada proves the opposite. EIAs presume the government’s right to allocate any resource, and take anyone’s land, subject to the completion of an EIA. As long as the property rights of citizens are not enshrined and enforced, EIAs legitimize the right of project proponents to threaten others. They are also inherently anti-democratic because they undermine the right of citizens to say “no” to development that harms their interests and the environment upon which they depend.
- For example, because the Chinese people have no legal claim to the land they live on or the rivers they use for their livelihoods (nor are courts available for seeking redress), the Chinese government can, and does, forcibly resettle people by the millions for this and that so-called “development” plan. But the uncompensated losses incurred by Chinese citizens are real, making them, and the Chinese economy as a whole, poorer as a result of unrestrained government expropriation.