How Dirty Laws Trash The Environment | Learn Liberty


suppose that you have a piece of property in one morning you wake up and realize that your neighbor is doing damage to it they’re dumping chemicals on it or they’re poisoning the water that runs through your backyard how are you going to deal with this today when we talk about law we tend to discuss laws that are passed by Congress and actions taken by regulatory agencies but we have in the United States as a part of our English heritage the common law it provides the basis of our ability to sue other people who damaged or Purcell or our property let’s go back a hundred years before there was any EPA there was a farmer in upstate New York who had a little farm one day found out that the creek that ran through his property is heavily polluted by a paper mill that had just been built upstream the water was no longer usable it would poisonous animals and would destroy its cause the way that he saw it was by going to court he use the common law to give himself property protection in the High Court of New York agreed with him they made the paper mill pay damages to him for what they had done and they also said the paper mill would be shut down if it could not operate in a manner that did not impose pollution on his farm that’s not the solution that would come about today today the farmer would have to go to the EPA and ask for them to possibly help solve this problem however the paper mill would have received a pollution permit already allowing them to discharge their wastewater into the creek then it would become a fight between the farmer and EPA siding with industry saying that the amount we’re emptying into the creek was acceptable let’s compare what happened in that case to a later case it’s very famously legal history the City of Milwaukee Wisconsin dumped its raw sewage into Lake Michigan that’s not far from Chicago so the people in Chicago had to pay to clean up the water before they could drink it the city of Chicago sued the City of Milwaukee and the Supreme Court agreed but the Clean Water Act came along and with the Clean Water Act said is from now on the EPA will decide who gets to dump sewage and how much where it took 10 years for EPA to get around to giving taxpayer money from around the country to the City of Milwaukee so they would clean up their own sewage that goes away from the traditional common law principle that you clean up your own mess please click here to see how markets can help solve various environmental problems that are of concern to you

Comments 39

  • Not sure if truth or propaganda…

  • Government is the biggest polluter so if we want to save the environment what we need is clearly more government. That is how dumb librels sound.

    To all the neocons that feel the need to deny climate change in order to defend your ideology please just stop because for once your ideology is on the side of reality and you're to stupid to tell.

  • What Learn Liberty always fails to understand is the concept of "might makes right".
    While government will always lessen competition through regulation, the court system will side with money and power at least as often.
    That farmer would need to be pretty rich today to even consider successfully suing the multi national corp that owns the mill.

  • The problem with relying on the common law to deal with pollution is when there are a large number of pollutes and a large number of victims, where it is hard to identify which individuals are most responsible for harming which individuals yet still clear that significant harm is being done in aggregate. In those cases it makes sense to levy a tax on the amount of pollution released and use the tax to pay dividends to all residents of the area effected.

  • Nice propaganda bit, too bad that justice system today is so inherently broken that a Farmer would never have enough capital to actually sue a company polluting his waters. This is how it would go.

    Farmer: "Hey Corporation X I sue you for polluting the water that I give to my cows"
    Corporation: "Okay sure, are you ready to battle in the court for the next 10 years before a single verdict is passed?"
    Farmer: "Let me get my shotgun and get those animals out of their misery"

  • If you do not already have a problem you will by the time the government finishes with you.

  • i think we may need to change how courts/lawsiuts operate so that people with more wealth have less/no atvantage over people with less wealth. i don't have any ideas but it's worth considering. another thing that would help is a private nfp organization to provide money/free legal services to people who have had their proporty damaged by untoward business practices.

  • The EPA was NEVER about protecting tbe environment! It's like the mafia, forcing companies, corporations, and people to pay "protection" money to them. It's about money and power just like ALL big govt acronyms.

  • todays courts are so backed up with lawsuits it would take a farmer years to get a verdict

  • But.. but I can't afford lawyers. rip 

  • This is under the assumption that judges cannot be corrupted. Perhaps there is some corruption within government agencies as well. So you have to address the corruption

    The fact of the matter is that not everyone has the time and resources to go out and litigate every time they have been wronged. That could be chaotic especially with judges that are corrupt. They almost never follow precedent regardless, hence more laws. And this is from the people who brought you the idea of tort reform.

    If someone is destroying or tainting someone else's property or natural resources, there most certainly should be criminal consequences to set an example.

  • Brilliant animation.

  • Are you freaking kidding me? So, the only way that anything involving the environment can be protected is if there is some way for me, or some other citizen, has the resources and ability and initiative to sue? 

    Who would I sue for carbon emissions? Who do I sue for causing acid rain? For making inefficient cars? For polluting my city and giving me asthma? If we want change across the board, we need regulation. 

  • The EPA, for an agency, has way too much power and authority. The EPA should be abolished because it's burdening way too many people. The points made in this video further highlights the EPA overreach of its mandate.

  • This video was far more useful than we realise.

  • To bad even with common law the courts are about money and not laws, I can't pay a team of lawyers to defend my land any more than I can get the EPA to pay for spilled milk. The EPA and the clean water act do on the other hand make criminal prosecution possible with the most powerful companies with the team a lawyers, because the EPA has the most powerful legislation at its disposal. The clean water act and the endangered species act make it possible for the EPA to manage all sorts of polluting companies, instead of suing every single one in a civil or common court where the one who wins is always the one with more money,(I don't have more money than Chevron who with out the EPAs intervention would constantly get away with dumping fracking chemicals into the Colorado River, You know how I know things would get worse with out the EPA? Because these companies do it even with paying the fines and court settlements..

  • As usual, my only criticism of this Learn Liberty video is that it does not go far enough. Yes, abolish the EPA, but also abolish the government courts, where people who have suffered legitimate harm have to grovel before black-robed deities and then wait months or years for a remedy. Private courts would be forced to make a choice: either deliver swift, fair and courteous judgements or go out of business.

  • search for free market environmentalism and nuisance laws…

  • https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/anecdotal

    So instead of having a mandatory set standard for pollution it'd be up to the whim of whatever local judge? terrifying.

    Also wouldn't the burden of proof for proving that the pollution is harmful up to the small farmer? and wouldn't he have to pay for tests to prove that? 

  • Hold on.

    You are claiming an equivalency between the two scenarios that isn't there.

    The first case is a person suing because there were no regulation governing the pollution.  The farmer was able to show damages.

    In the second case, there were regulations in place and the farmer was unable to show damages.  That is why he had to go to the EPA instead of the courts.

  • The paper mill anecdote is nice and that is how the system should work in theory, but nowadays it's just too arduous and expensive to sue a large profit motivated entity with a legal team the size of an NFL roster. No way a single person can successfully sue a large company over environmental damages unless it's actually killed people in the process. See Erin Brockovich

  • the government strikes again.
    it is interesting how the truth tends to just sound more reasonable. i haven't fact checked this, but i am confident when i do it will either be right on the money, or quite close.

  • Wow, great one!  You Learn Liberty folks are making great videos!  I hope you are doing an equally good job of getting social studies teachers to show them, or their students to use them in presentations, or getting these videos watched by middle of the road centrist voters!  (We fiscal conservatives and libertarians love 'em, but that changes nothing, and the far left liberal/socialists won't be changed by anything rational, so the target should be middle-of-the-political-spectrum…)

  • This is what happens when the government gets over bloated (as it is now) and tries to control everything.

  • Another point to mention is that of all organizations, the organization that is responsible for the most pollution is the government.  The Dept. of Energy and the Dept. of Defense have more total uncleaned-up dump sites (as measured in the dollars required to clean them up) than of all other polluted sites put together.  Think of the Tri-Cities nuclear area in southern WA state…  Think of all the depleted uranium shells at all of the bomb training sites in the West…  It dwarfs anything created by industry.  And people want to trust the environment to govt agencies?  That's like trusting politicians not to break promises.

  • Their depiction of the EPA is a little unfair.  They set a quota of acceptable levels of pollution that shouldn't be surpassed, and companies must pay for the right to pollute within the bounds of the quota.  What the video fails to address is that maybe the quota isn't always set at the correct level, not that the quota isn't inherently bad.  Imagine if there weren't a quota and it was simply any level of pollution.  Clearly that would far more damaging to business than the costs associated with maintaining compliance with EPA regulation.  Not saying the EPA is perfect, but to take attack it on that issue seems short-sighted.

  • Well yea… because the Bush Admin along with the Conservative Republicans, gutted all the real rules! They did it to protect their energy tycoon friends!

  • This nonsense the EPA is a viable program needed to battle off those who want the blatantly pollute our land and air. The fight that this farmer needs to have is with the real enemy corporations who patent the genetics in the seeds and polluters who have no desire to protect the planet but to protect their wallets. Stop with your ignorance the EPA wont destroy your land climate change will, meaning the oil companies. Conservative Politicians will lie to you to the bone to protect the oil companies and yes i do agree the Democrats that also support oil companies need to go as well. Liberty is the tool they use to make you think that it our government who it taking it from you but in Reality its the same people the working class has been fighting against for 2000 years the rich and the greedy. Wake up to the reality your being taken advantage of and government is your only power that you have. Those who preach against our government is trying to weaken your voice so that you and your children can be taken advantage of just like what happened in the early 1900s.

  • Left unsaid is that the companies often have far more money to mount an aggressive defense, appeals, and probably bribes to help sway the outcome in ways that the average individual cannot.  And with the SCOTUS neutering class action lawsuits recently, this approach of endless lawsuits would not result in a better environment.  

  • Hi! Have you ever tried – Devans Dirty Dialogues? (should be on google have a look) Ive heard some great things about the things it teaches and my sister-in-law got cool money with it. 

  • Hi! Have you ever tried – Devans Dirty Dialogues? (should be on google have a look) Ive heard some great things about the things it teaches and my sister-in-law got cool money with it. 

  • There's a lot of misinformation in this video. Just because the EPA exists, that doesn't mean the farmer couldn't sue the factory for his dead cows. Moreover, federal regulation would likely make his suit easier to win than if he were just suing under common law. In fact, tort law is a very expensive and often ineffective way to protect one's rights. It's a bit of a lottery. For every successful suit, many more are unsuccessful. This often leads to unjust results whether the plaintiff wins or loses. I'm not going to waste much more time on this, but this video is simplistic and very misleading.

  • Misleading video that suggests that environmental torts can replace federal or state regulation. The fact that you must prove your property is damaged to bring suit to the polluter will essentially mean that only action will occur once the pollution has cause material damage but torts cannot replace regulation. The video suggest that as long as polluters don't cause damage to another private party, the water you drink will be safe and air you breathe is clean. But our regulation, which is based on scientific research, identifies safe air and water levels and imposes controls if those levels are exceeded. Torts cannot hope to provide similar protections and forces the burden of proof to the party damaged to establish the damage and who had caused the harm (which is not to establish that burden of proof). Removal of environmental regulations will irreparably harm the public. I understand if you feel that regulations can increase the cost of business but before you believe this erroneous video, think about how much money you would pay to have prevented an incidence of cancer or other serious disease linked to air and water pollution. Clean air and water cannot be left up to market forces and the court system because by the time a suit will be ready, too much public harm will have occurred (Anderson v. Cryovac or Anderson v. PGE).

  • He's arguing for time. Lawyers get work done faster than agencies. Is that where you want to place your clean water in?

  • easy .. make the permits from the epa as something in mandatory ADDITION to a full responsibility for any harm the pollution causes.

  • Corruption

  • Hahahaha. Undermining the function of the EPA by using an oversimplified example. Private citizens lack the knowledge nor the financial means to hold big corporations responsible. Furthermore, how would you expect the public to understand the repercussions of various types of polution? Clean water, clean air and clear policies for business to adhere to are a governments' responsibility. I think the pre versus post EPA era speaks for itself. This video is a terrible way of pushing a corporate agenda of loose environmental regulations which harm the many for the short term financial gain of the few. Actually, from the perspective of future generations this is disgusting and whoever is behind this should be ashamed. Deeply. Ashamed. /rant

  • Common Law goes out when Common Sense does!

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