Property Rights in the Defence of Nature

By Elizabeth Brubaker

This book draws on cases from England, Canada, and the United States, showing how the common law of property has for centuries been a force for environmental protection, while contemporary statutes have allowed polluters to foul private lands and public resources alike. It argues that individuals and communities should be entrusted with the task of preserving the environment and that, with stronger property rights, they would regain the power to prevent much harmful activity.

Published by Earthscan Publications Limited and Earthscan Canada, 1995

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Protecting the Environment with Property Rights: The K.V.P. Story


The controversy surrounding the K.V.P. pulp and paper mill in the 1940s dramatically illustrates both property owners’ common law rights to clean water and governments’ tendency to override these rights. Three court cases and two laws involving K.V.P. concerned the right of landowners to sue the company for polluting the river adjacent to their land. A brief explanation of “riparian rights” will clarify these cases and the subsequent events.

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