The Common Law and the Environment: The Canadian Experience

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A chapter from Who Owns the Environment?, a collection of essays edited by Peter Hill and Roger Meiners exploring the theory that environmental concerns are essentially property rights issues. In this chapter, Elizabeth Brubaker reviews the ancient roots of contemporary property rights and traces their evolution in Canada. She describes the ways in which concerned citizens have used their property rights to clean up and to prevent pollution. She then chronicles successive governments’ efforts to replace the common law with statutes and regulations governing the environment. Lastly, she recommends restoring strong property rights in order to return control over environmental degradation to those most directly affected by it.

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The Common Law Approach to Pollution Prevention

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A transcript of a roundtable discussion, hosted by the Center for Private Conservation, between Hope Babcock, Elizabeth Brubaker, David Schoenbrod, and Bruce Yandle. Explores the promise and pitfalls of applying common law remedies to contemporary environmental concerns.

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