Ron Paul: The Most Anti-Environmental Candidate Ever

In a field in which all the candidates are weak in terms of protecting the environment, Ron Paul is unquestionably the worst.  Here is his position (taken directly from his website):

Eliminate the ineffective EPA. Polluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create – not to Washington.

OK, what’s wrong with this proposal?  Here are a few things:

  1. Why just property owners? Why not other people with health effects? Is there some reason why a tenant with asthma can’t sue, but a company with paint damage can go to court? Because property values matter, but not human health?
  2. Who would be the defendants? If you live in a big city, how do you sue all of the polluters for damage?  Do you sue everyone who has a car or truck for contributing to air pollution? How do you pay for the expert witnesses and legal fees?
  3. Why only damages?  If he truly believed in property rights, he’d allow injunctions to stop the harm from continuing.
  4. How would courts handle the immense body of litigation?  The pollution suits would be the world’s biggest class actions, with millions of plaintiffs, swarms of defendants, huge fees for expert witnesses, etc.  Is that really what conservatives want?

We’ve already tried this approach, and it didn’t work. This is more or less where the law stood fifty years ago. We didn’t pass modern environmental laws because we loved regulation; we passed them because the old system led to massive air and water pollution.

This isn’t a policy proposal.  It’s a libertarian fantasy. And a callous one at that.

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Reader Comments

14 Replies to “Ron Paul: The Most Anti-Environmental Candidate Ever”

  1. “Is there some reason why a tenant with asthma can’t sue, but a company with paint damage can go to court?”

    I’m guessing the idea is that the tenant can negotiate for a lower rent from the landowner. This might be efficient in a world with perfect information and zero transaction costs, which is to say that it’s nothing more than a nice thought experiment.

  2. “Is there some reason why a tenant with asthma can’t sue, but a company with paint damage can go to court?”

    I’m guessing the idea is that the tenant can negotiate for a lower rent from the landowner. This might be efficient in a world with perfect information and zero transaction costs, which is to say that it’s nothing more than a nice thought experiment.

  3. We are all property owners. We own our bodies. A tenant with asthma can sue on the basis that her property rights were violated when she was forced to breathe in the pollution from the polluter. I think you are confused by what Ron Paul and libertarians regard as property rights.

  4. We are all property owners. We own our bodies. A tenant with asthma can sue on the basis that her property rights were violated when she was forced to breathe in the pollution from the polluter. I think you are confused by what Ron Paul and libertarians regard as property rights.

  5. Yes, we eliminate the EPA and individual citizens can try to hunt down who exactly who is releasing hexavalent chromium, or thousands of other chemicals, into the environment. Instead of thousands of EPA employees regulating these chemicals before the fact we can have hundreds of thousands of lawyers tracking down what precisely is causing a local cancer epidemic decades after the chemical was introduced into the environment. WOW! Property rights for the win!

    I wish these Alex Jones/Ron Paul lovers would get their own little country to try their libertarian fantasies in. It’s a testament to the success of the EPA that so many people think the alternative of the 1950s (lawsuits after damage has been done and people are dead) is a better alternative.

  6. Yes, we eliminate the EPA and individual citizens can try to hunt down who exactly who is releasing hexavalent chromium, or thousands of other chemicals, into the environment. Instead of thousands of EPA employees regulating these chemicals before the fact we can have hundreds of thousands of lawyers tracking down what precisely is causing a local cancer epidemic decades after the chemical was introduced into the environment. WOW! Property rights for the win!

    I wish these Alex Jones/Ron Paul lovers would get their own little country to try their libertarian fantasies in. It’s a testament to the success of the EPA that so many people think the alternative of the 1950s (lawsuits after damage has been done and people are dead) is a better alternative.

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About Dan

Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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