FREEcology is a blog on libertarian environmentalism. It is authored by Jonathan Wood, who is also an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), an adjunct fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) and a member of the executive committee for the Federalist Society’s Environmental Law and Property Rights Practice Group. The views expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of PLF, PERC, or Fed-Soc.
Defining libertarian environmentalism is easier said than done, but a few basic principles underlie it. First, incentives matter. The knee jerk impulse to treat regulation as the solution to every environmental problem often backfires, by punishing behavior that benefits the environment. Second, secure property rights are a necessary, if not always sufficient, condition for responsible resource use and conservation. And, finally, where environmental regulation is appropriate, the best system will ensure that whoever benefits from the regulation also bears the costs. Internalizing those costs prevents regulations from being more burdensome than necessary. Needless to say, much of modern environmental law fares very poorly under these principles.
If you’re not familiar with these ideas, here are some good introductory posts:
- On Earth Day, celebrate the environmental benefits of human prosperity
- To protect endangered species, secure property rights
- Should government permits override property rights?
- Supreme Court’s muddled definition of property undermines and politicizes conservation