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OpenMarket: Lands and Wildlife

  • Unions and Environmentalists Oppose Plan to Address California's Rising Housing Costs

    May 25, 2016

    Everyone’s for affordable housing—except, it seems, some unions and environmentalists.

    On May 18, a coalition of unions and environmental advocacy groups—including the State Building & Construction Trades Council and Natural Resources Defense Council—wrote to lawmakers to voice their opposition to a proposal by Governor Jerry Brown to encourage more building of lower-cost housing by expediting the state’s environmental impact review process.

    Brown’s proposal would exempt projects planned on land zoned for high-density development from burdensome review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Note that those projects would already have had to qualify under local zoning ordinances.

    Green activists are often hostile to development in general....

  • Burning Ivory Is Not the Solution

    May 3, 2016

    A few days ago, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta set fire to giant pile after giant pile of elephant ivory confiscated from poachers. Some 105 tons of ivory from over 8,000 elephants as well as 300 rhino horns. Worth some $150 million.

    This was the largest such stockpile ever destroyed since Kenya began this program back in the 1980s.

    Supposedly this is to send a message to poachers and ivory dealers. “Today Kenya will set fire to the ivory trade,” tweeted WildAid, an organization that “fights for wildlife by targeting consumer demand for illicit products including ivory, rhino horn and shark fin.”

    It would appear, however, that the message is not getting over to the poachers....

  • Regulation Poses Biggest Threat to Monarch Butterflies

    March 7, 2016

    Like many nature lovers and gardeners, last year I launched a milkweed garden for monarch butterflies, starting from seed. After a long summer of manually picking pesky milkweed bugs and aphids off the plants, I noticed one monarch caterpillar. Success! I hope that caterpillar made it to the butterfly stage, and then took off to Mexico where many monarchs overwinter.

    My efforts represent a tiny part of a larger effort to save these butterflies through private conservation, whose numbers have dwindled in recent decades. Such efforts may have begun to pay off as the...

  • War on Logging Claims another Casualty

    January 28, 2016

    Sierra Pacific Industries is permanently closing its Arcata, California, sawmill, a third-generation family-owned forest products company and one of largest landowners in the United States. First built by Red Emmerson’s father in 1951, it was out on the Samoa Peninsula in Arcata, on the northern California coast.

    The main reason for the closing is that the company couldn’t harvest suitably sized logs from the forests—in addition to all the other growing regulatory burdens and the prolonged recession and slow housing market. Sierra Pacific tried to truck in logs from California’s interior and ship them from Washington State and British Columbia, but it proved way too expensive.

    Now Canadian firms are shipping in the logs and timber that American...

  • How Markets Benefit Honeybees and Mankind

    August 3, 2015

    After more than a decade of panicked reports about honeybees disappearing and potentially going extinct because of a phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder,” The Washington Post reported last week that the number of hives in the United States has reached a 20 year high. At the same time, I was making presentation at a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, explaining that globally, there are more beehives today than there were in 1961,...

  • How to Improve the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill

    April 28, 2015

    The Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for FY 2016 passed by the House Appropriations Committee spends too much, but does move some funding from very bad programs to somewhat less bad programs. 

    The best thing in the bill is the set of riders that prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the proposed Waters of the United States rule. That rule if implemented would expand federal jurisdiction far beyond what was intended by Congress in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and far beyond the current definition or any reasonable definition of the navigable waters of the United States. The WOTUS rule also ignores and largely contradicts the Supreme Court’s decisions in SWANCC and Rapanos. 

    Here are a few suggestions for improving the Energy and Water Appropriations bill when it comes to the floor of the House this week:

    1. A rider...
  • A Voluntary Approach to Helping the Honeybee

    April 8, 2015

    Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute published my paper on the honeybee health issue and pesticide use. We have had several media outlets ask, why is CEI focused on the honeybee issue now? If you read this blog, you know that I have been writing about pesticides and their impact on public health and well-being for at least a decade and a half.

    CEI selects issues based on our goals to promote freedom and prosperity, using the market to advance public health and well-being. I focus on chemicals, which I believe are under appreciated and misunderstood market-generated technologies that advance human well-being.  My work on pesticides has focused on allowing strategic uses to ...

  • Green Exploitation of the Monarch Butterfly

    October 20, 2014

    Butterflies offer powerful imagery for environmental groups looking to advance their agendas. After all, who doesn’t want to save these beautiful creatures? Surely green activists could leverage those desires to advance voluntary efforts to create butterfly habitat. But the actions of some groups indicates that they would rather exploit the butterflies to gain policy victories in Washington, even if the butterflies suffer as a result.

    Conservationists rightly point out that monarch butterflies face challenges associated with habitat loss because there are not enough of the type of plants that they need for food and reproduction. In particular, these creatures feed and reproduce among milkweed, a flower that many people consider to be nothing more than an undesirable weed. As a result, farmers, homeowners, and other property owners have removed these plants, leaving less...

  • Honeybee Population in Decline—Or Not?

    August 13, 2014

    If you read the news about honeybee survival, it’s all very confusing. Some sources sound the alarm by pointing out that the number of honeybee hives has dropped significantly in recent decades. Others say just the opposite: There are more hives today than ever before.

    Which is it? Actually, both.  Some regions of the world have fewer hives, while globally there are more commercial hives now than there were in 1960....

  • House Brings Transparency to Endangered Species Act, Still Needs to Protect Property Rights

    July 30, 2014

    Today the House passed H.R. 4315, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act. Unfortunately, it likely has no chance of passing in the Senate and word is out from the White House that the president would veto the bill.

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