When it comes to the Environment:
- The best way to respect the environment is to respect property rights.
- All forms of pollution should be treated as trespassing.
- Change the law such that new owners are not held liable for the environmental sins of former owners.
- Eliminate the coercive, government-spawned monopoly utilities.
- The fracking boom is good for Pennsylvania, but the property rights of the surrounding communities must be protected.
- Whenever a fracker trespasses upon the environment with their wastes, they should be treated like any trespasser and held liable for their mess, and be forced to clean it up or be shut down.
- To encourage the continued economic development of Pennsylvania, there should be no taxation of fracking.
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The Libertarian Party is different from the two old parties in that
we are the party of principle. Every law we support, every law we
oppose, can all be traced to one central principle: that your life
is yours, your property is yours, that you have the God-given,
inalienable right to live your life your way, without government
interference, provided that you respect the rights and property of
others. As a result, Libertarians are as pro-environment as they
Most environmental laws today are on the wrong track. They try to
spell out every last detail of what pollutants can appear where,
how much is acceptable, even defining how the right to pollute can
be sold. The unfortunate results of their policies surround us.
But if we returned to the tried and true methods learned from
experience, we would have a much cleaner planet.
The best way to respect the environment is to respect property
rights. When it comes to pollution, this respect translates into
the concept that all forms of pollution should be treated as
trespassing. If we treated pollution as a trespass, then should
someone's pollution leak, blow, or fall onto their neighbor's
property, the simple solution would be to tell them to stop
trespassing and get their junk off the property. If they didn't,
all of the existing remedies for trespass would apply, such as
local police assistance, court injunctions to stop the trespassers,
and a court order to have them remove their mess. This would work
for landfills, nuclear waste, acid rain, loud stereos, bright
lights, simple trash, and a host of other pollution problems.
But good as it is, this approach only addresses the larger part of
the problem, namely those cases where the polluter is known. For
past infractions where the polluter has vanished, a large part of
the problem could be addressed by changing the law such that new
owners are not held liable for the sins of former owners.
This single change would make a huge difference. There are many
old industrial sites that no one will touch because the full extent
of any environmental damage is unknown. So no one even considers
buying these properties because they'd be left holding someone
else's bag of pollution, liability claims and all. The result is
that the properties sit unused and unbought, an eyesore and an
albatross around the neck of their communities. But if the
liability were pinned on the original polluter rather than the
buyer, then more of these properties would be bought and cleaned up
without using any taxpayers money. The new owner would not need to
fear bankrupting litigation. Everybody would win.
Of course, there will always be a few, very bad sites that would
need to be addressed on a one-by-one basis. But the vast majority
of the cases could be cleaned up by these two initiatives: treating
pollution as a trespass, and holding the polluter liable.
The fracking boom is good for Pennsylvania. It brings in much needed revenue and many, many jobs. However, we must be cautious when tapping the riches fracking has made available to us, and the best way is to respect property rights.
Fracking in and of itself is not a danger to the environment because it happens over a mile beneath the water tables. What does pose a danger is the drilling process itself and the disposal of waste products. But as with any potentially-dangerous activity (mining, oil drilling, landfills, nuclear power, and more), the property rights of the surrounding communities must be protected. Waste products must be properly treated and not simply dumped into streams; and whenever a fracker trespasses upon the environment with their wastes, they should be treated like any trespasser and held liable for their mess, and be forced to clean it up or be shut down.
Fracking can ensure the continued economic development of Pennsylvania for decades to come. To encourage that development, there should be no taxation of fracking. The role of government should be limited to the protection of the citizens and their property.
For virtually all of its commercial history, electricity has
been heavily regulated by the government. Until very recently, a
person was forced by law to accept electrical power from only one
certain, government-designated monopoly. But a few states are
finally realizing the benefits that a free market can bring and are
finally allowing multiple electric companies to serve a single
Now there are a fortunate few consumers who are no longer
compelled to buy power generated by dirty power plants, no longer
force-fed fossil fuels. "Green" power is finally available for
those who want it, now that government has gotten out of the way.
The environmentally-conscious person can "just say no" to nuclear
power, and the socially-conscious can easily boycott the
environmentally irresponsible power companies.
But despite these recent advances toward freedom, the market-
distorting hand of government still retains a firm grip on the
industry. Power distribution is still a virtual monopoly.
Utilities are forced to purchase power from small producers,
whether or not they wish to. "Rights to pollute" are sold on an
open market, guaranteeing that inefficient, polluting power plants
will continue to operate and continue polluting. Until the
coercive, government-spawned monopolies are ended, problems will
continue to plague the electric industry.
Indeed, everywhere the hand of government touches, troubles
quickly follow. Along with their electric monopolies come rolling
brownouts. Their school monopolies produce children who can't
read. Their control of the highways brings traffic jams. Their
control of the water supplies brings droughts. Electricity choice
is now helping to mitigate some of the problems in that industry,
but now we need highway choice, water choice, retirement plan
choice, insurance choice, all the freedoms a free people deserve.
And the only way to bring about those choices is to vote