The Breached Michigan Dam Was Supposed to Save Mussels?

Thirteen years of regulatory oversight?

From the Detroit News:

 

Numerous violations and longstanding concerns that the Edenville Dam could not withstand a significant flood led the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to revoke its license for power generation in September 2018.

***

“Thirteen years after acquiring the license for the project, the licensee has still not increased spillway capacity, leaving the project in danger,” wrote Jennifer Hill, director of the division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance. “The spillway capacity deficiencies must be remedied in order to protect life, limb and property.”

Saving Mussels not People?

Also from the Detroit News:

 

Days after feds revoked the dam’s license to generate power, the state assumed oversight, inspected the dam and declared it and its spillways to be in “fair structural condition.”

***

Over the next two years, state regulators appear to have focused increasingly on what they said was the company’s unauthorized drawdown of winter water levels of Wixom Lake, which they said created a danger to freshwater mussels.

Continue reading “The Breached Michigan Dam Was Supposed to Save Mussels?”

‘BlackRock Discovers the Joy of Other People’s Money’

Plants Growing On Coins

Ben Zycher on the hypocrisy of BlackRock’s ‘sustainability’ initiative:

Blackrock—the largest asset manager in the world—has announced in the form of a public letter from its CEO Larry Fink to corporate managements that henceforth“Sustainability [will serve] as Blackrock’s New Standard for Investing.”

It is unsurprising that nowhere in the various materials issued by Blackrock in support of this new mission is there to be found an actual definition of “sustainability.” Instead, Blackrock informs us that

Sustainability in the investment context means understanding and incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment analysis and decision-making.

That “definition” is worse than useless . . . Continue reading “‘BlackRock Discovers the Joy of Other People’s Money’”

A Property Rights Solution to Endangered Salmon

Writing for PERC, R. David Simpson gives an intriguing example of salmon preservation: Native American tribes in Oregon considered bidding on a dam license (to change its operations in ways that would  protect salmon). The result: a productive relationship with the dam owners—a cooperative effort to protect salmon.

Here is an excerpt from Simpson’s paper:

Salmon had been in decline on the Deschutes River in northern Oregon, a tributary of the Columbia, since Portland General Electric began construction of the Pelton Round Butte Dam Complex in the mid-1960s. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, a consortium of local Native American groups, were guaranteed the right to fish for salmon on the Deschutes River under an 1855 treaty.

As salmon declined, the tribes faced both economic and cultural impoverishment. Controversy and finger-pointing attended discussions of the causes of the salmon decline, with the tribes blaming the Portland General Electric dams and the utility pointing to both up- and downstream threats to salmon. Continue reading “A Property Rights Solution to Endangered Salmon”

How I Became a Free-Market Environmentalist in France

By Max Falque.

The managing director of ICREI, the International Center for Research on Environmental Issues, Max Falque is based in Aix-en-Provence, France. He tells the story of how he changed from a French bureaucrat to a proponent of environmental protection using private property and markets.  From his essay, “Why Did I Become a Free-Market Environmentalist?” in I Chose Liberty, edited by Walter Block.

Based on my family background, I should still worship central government and “service public,” like the great majority of French. My family shared two traditions: on my father’s side, conservative provincial and provençal bourgeoisie engaged in farming a family estate since the 16th century, and on my mother’s side, the value of the liberal, intellectual, Catholic beliefs. But everybody agreed about the sanctity of bureaucracy. Studying law at the Montpellier University in the 50s could not introduce me to classic liberal thinking, since the clear distinction between civil and administrative law was (and still is) a basic fact. In economics classes, references to Keynes and Samuelson left no room for unknown Austrian economics. The Communist party used to get nearly 30 percent at the general elections, and most “intellectuals” were at least fellow travelers or useful idiots, if not true believers.

***

The concept of free market environmentalism (FME) came as a revelation to me when meeting R.J. Smith at a Lincoln Institute conference at Harvard in July 1983. R.J., in a plenary session, briefly explained that land could be best managed by property rights and market instruments. Ann Louise Strong, as chair of the panel, dryly answered that this was outdated and inappropriate thinking. I felt sorry for R.J. and I invited him to discuss the issue at a neighboring pub. It was quite a fascinating evening and, back in France, R.J. sent me his recently published article, “Privatizing the Environment” (Policy Review, 1982). I was then introduced progressively to the FME literature and scholars. Continue reading “How I Became a Free-Market Environmentalist in France”

The War on Roundup: A War on Science in Agriculture

By Blake Hurst

This guest post is by Blake Hurst,  a farmer in northwest Missouri, growing greenhouse flowers, corn, and soybeans. He is  also president of the Missouri Farm Bureau.

Farmers and what critics call “industrial agriculture“ are under public pressure—over genetically modified seeds, long-standing fear of chemicals, and concerns about animal welfare. Farmers’ methods of producing food are criticized in documentaries, in best-selling books, and of course, on Twitter. Heck, dairy farmers even got a starring role at the Academy Awards, when Joaquin Phoenix gave his opinion on the evils of drinking milk.

Not only are farmers in trouble in the court of public opinion, but we’re also faring poorly in actual courtrooms. Lawsuits against Roundup, the most ubiquitous crop-protection product on the market, have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments against the German chemical company Bayer. Bayer recently purchased Monsanto, the company that brought Roundup to the market. Hair-on-fire ads on TV and social media have convinced at least 42,000 people to file suit against Bayer, leading the company to signal a willingness to accept a multi-billion-dollar settlement.

The lawsuits claim that Roundup causes cancer, but regulatory agencies worldwide have failed to find a link between Roundup and cancer. In fact, the U.S. EPA has taken the unprecedented step of intervening in a related lawsuit in California that would require products with the chemical to be labeled as carcinogenic. The EPA has, in no uncertain terms, told the court that such a label would contradict the agency’s conclusions about the carcinogenicity of Roundup. Continue reading “The War on Roundup: A War on Science in Agriculture”