In a new report examining the impacts of factory farming, the World Society for the Protection of Animals explains that right-to-farm laws have curtailed the rights of rural residents to be free of agricultural pollution. The authors bolster their arguments with quotes from Greener Pastures: Decentralizing the Regulation of Agricultural Pollution. Continue reading
Last week, as most environmentalists bemoaned the federal government’s decision to streamline environmental assessments, one expert shed no tears. Bruce Pardy, professor of environmental law at Queen’s University and member of Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal, told CBC Radio that “environmental assessment is not a great way to protect the environment.” Continue reading
In this article in the C2C Journal, Elizabeth Brubaker reviews recent court cases against polluters, large and small, demonstrating that common-law property rights remain powerful tools for environmental protection. But courts are hamstrung when governments authorize pollution. Only when governments don’t stand in the way can people use their property rights to shield themselves from harm. Continue reading
The authors of this research paper examine the rationales for and the effects of laws that cap liability for environmental disasters, such as oil spills and nuclear accidents. Such laws, they conclude, subsidize environmentally harmful activities and encourage risky behaviour. Continue reading
After decades of mercilessly laying waste to the East Coast cod fisheries, the federal government is poised to shut them down. The government has no choice: There is nothing left to plunder. It didn’t have to end like this.
On the surface, a recent B.C. court case seemed to deny a legal right to clean water. But in fact, since the 19th century, common law has given the users of water downstream from a polluter a clear right to seek redress through the courts.
It appears that by opening the waters to the public, Opération Déclubage has caused, at least partly, the general decline in the quality of fishing in the province of Québec. This paper is an attempt to demonstrate that leaving the waters to the care of unaccountable managers leads to a decline in fish stocks, and that a clear system of private property rights is better suited to ensuring resource conservation – not just in Quebec but everywhere the opportunity exists for private river stewards to improve fisheries management.
Canada’s mining industry knows how to strike it rich, but it closely guards its secrets, for fear others will jump its claims. Now, the secret’s out. Here’s how it’s done.
In this Alberta Report article by Carla Yu, Elizabeth Brubaker speculates that Roundup Ready Canola seed could be deemed a trespass if it drifts onto someone’s property. Continue reading
Ask an environmentalist how to ensure an ongoing healthy ecology, and he will almost certainly suggest more government regulation. Who would have thought that a more effective method has always been available within the English-speaking world? Yet this method has kept the British Isles green, even though their population density is 75 times greater than Canada’s.
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.
This paper, published in Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, was prepared for Property Rights, Economics & Environment: Water Resources, an international conference organised by the Centre d’Analyse Economique and the International Center for Research on Environmental Issues in 1998. In the paper, Elizabeth Brubaker compares four approaches to the privatization and regulation of water and sewage utilities and explores the environmental implications of each approach.
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.
In this presentation to a Student Seminar on Public Policy Issues, held in Toronto, Ontario, in November 1997, Elizabeth Brubaker argues that remote, centralized governments, driven by political considerations and insensitive to local circumstances, are not the best guardians of the public good. Environmental problems require a diversity of solutions devised by those most affected. Good information and strong property rights give people both tools and incentives to use their resources sustainably.
The keynote address to the Tri-State Rock Lobster Industry Conference, held in Adelaide, Australia, on September 8, 1997. In it, Elizabeth Brubaker argues that governments should put control over fisheries into the hands of fishers. She examines the political pressures and bureaucratic structures that deprive government managers of the incentives and tools necessary to make sustainable decisions. She calls for systems of self-managed ownership that remove decisions about catches and habitat from the political arena.
This book celebrates the potential of the traditional common law of nuisance as a framework for protecting the environment. Ms. Brubaker unashamedly assumes that private property owners are the best guardians for the purity of rivers and the clarity of the atmosphere. She provides striking illustrations of how those with property rights may be driven by economic common sense to protect natural resources, if they are fully informed and if they are given the freedom to act.
This is a high-spirited, well-written and informative book on the law as the protector of the environment, a book to be recommended to students in environmental studies and law and economics, a book made more interesting, challenging and useful because its prescriptions are, in my opinion, largely wrong.
How do fishers behave? When holding clear rights, do they exploit fisheries recklessly or manage them sustainably? Can we trust them?
An interview, for CBC Radio’s Ideas program, with Patricia Adams, Elizabeth Brubaker, and Lawrence Solomon. A discussion of the environmental, economic, and social harm wrought in the name of the public good, both in Canada and in the Third World, and of the counterbalancing protections offered by traditional property rights regimes.
When it comes to environmental protection, Canadians are like cocaine addicts: they have an insatiable craving for the very thing that made them sick in the first place. Or maybe I should say they’re like a mistreated puppy: they still love and trust the master who beat them, and they keep coming back for more.