- EPA reversal on Waters of the United States rule gives power back to states [Andrew Wheeler, Kansas City Star; related Federalist Society video with Donald Kochan and Robert Glicksman; earlier]
- Even if one concedes that throwaway items generate environmental externalities, it still doesn’t mean laws should ban disposable diapers or other single-use plastics [Ryan Bourne, Telegraph/Cato] “New Jersey Plans a Plastic-Banning Spree” [Christian Britschgi]
- NYC’s Mayor de Blasio: “we will seize their buildings and we will put them in the hands of a community nonprofit.” [John Sexton]
- It’s sometimes claimed that NYC’s unusually high cost of constructing public infrastructure arises from its preexisting infrastructure, geology, and high land values, yet other world cities with tougher challenges in each category build at much lower cost [Connor Harris, City Journal]
- Podcast: Lynne Kiesling lecture on environmental economics [Cato University 2018]
- Acrylamide follies: “Bid to introduce cancer warnings on breakfast cereal packaging fails in California court” [Legal NewsLine, from July] After public outcry, state of California acted last summer to forestall possible Prop 65 warnings on coffee [New York Times, earlier]
- California state agency in charge of Prop 65 enforcement seeks to effectively reverse judge’s recent ruling and exempt naturally occurring acrylamide levels in coffee from need for warning [Cal Biz Lit] Prop 65 listing mechanism requires listing of substances designated by a strictly private organization, spot the problem with that [WLF brief in Monsanto Co. v. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment]
- Yes, those proposals to ban plastic straws are a test run for broader plastic prohibitions [Christian Britschgi, Honolulu Star-Advertiser] Impact on disabled users, for whom metal, bamboo, and paper substitutes often don’t work as well [Allison Shoemaker, The Takeout] Surprising facts about fishing nets [Adam Minter, Bloomberg, earlier]
- “A closely watched climate case is dismissed; Will the others survive?” [Daniel Fisher on dismissal of San Francisco, Oakland cases] Rhode Island files first state lawsuit, cheered by mass tort veteran Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) [Spencer Walrath/Energy in Depth, Mike Bastasch/Daily Caller]
- Meanwhile back in Colorado: Denver Post, Gale Norton, other voices criticize Boulder, other municipal climate suits [Rebecca Simons, Energy in Depth, earlier here and here]
- Waters of the United States: time to repeal and replace this unconstitutional rule [Jonathan Wood, The Hill, earlier on WOTUS]
- “What you’re talking about is law enforcement for hire”: at least nine state AG offices “are looking to hire privately funded lawyers to work on environmental litigation through a foundation founded by” nationally ambitious billionaire and former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg [Mike Bastasch]
- Hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama trends on Twitter after high schoolers tweet it with pics of unappetizing lunch trays, provoking “shut up and eat what’s put in front of you” reactions from some who support the new federally prescribed rules. Maybe better to listen instead? [Kevin Cirilli, The Hill, Rachel Zarrell, BuzzFeed]
- “After suing a small California company for calling its eggless product ‘Just Mayo,’ Hellmann’s maker Unilever tweaked references on its websites to products that aren’t exactly mayonnaise either.” [AP/Tulsa World]
- Mark Bittman/Michael Pollan scheme for national food policy? Send it back to the kitchen, please [Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
- Johnny Appleseed, substance abuse enabler [Natasha Geiling, Smithsonian]
- One factor behind drive for new GMO non-browning potato: legal pressure against acrylamide, naturally forming browning component, by way of Calif. Prop 65 lawsuits and regulations [Guardian, New York Times]
- Costly, fussy, coercive: Minneapolis micromanages convenience food sales [Baylen Linnekin]
- No, FSMA isn’t worth the damage it’s doing to food variety and smaller producers [same]
“When consumers in California visit the Dunkin’ Donuts website hoping to order a bag of their favorite java, they are met with the following message: ‘Important Notice: We are temporarily suspending the shipment of orders to California while we work to comply with Proposition 65 with the State of California. We apologize for any inconvenience.'” Acrylamide, a compound naturally present in many roasted or cooked foods, is among the hundreds of substances that must be warned against under Prop 65, which has led, as we noted in May, to a lawsuit against more than 40 coffee companies. [TechNewsWorld] Author Vivian Wagner quotes me:
“The law empowers private litigants to enforce its terms without having to show that any consumer has been exposed to any material or substantial risk, let alone harmed,” Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, told the E-Commerce Times. “As a result, entrepreneurial law firms roam the state identifying new, often far-fetched, unwarned-of risks and extracting cash settlements along with promises to warn from hapless defendants.”
It’s long been known that the processes by which food is browned, whether in the frying pan, grill, rotisserie or stewpot, generate a variety of chemicals with alarmingly hard-to-pronounce names. David Oliver thinks the flap over 4-methylimidazole in the familiar cola ingredient, “caramel coloring,” is likely to go the same way as the flap over supposed cancer risk from acrylamide in French fries, potato chips and many other foods.
P.S. Per commenter Jerry, I’ve jumped to conclusions, and the “caramel coloring” found in sodas is generated by other chemical processes, not by caramelization.
Bruce Nye has a photo of a pointless new warning McDonald’s has posted in California stores to avoid litigation. The warning seems to have a side safety benefit: by the time you finish reading it, your coffee won’t be hot any more.
Readers will recall that acrylamide is a naturally occurring substance formed when many foods are browned or otherwise cooked and that (like countless other constituents of common foods) it appears to cause cancer in some animals at high dosages. California attorney general Jerry Brown has now reached a settlement with some large food companies that will require them to revise recipes for potato chips, French fries and other wares to reduce acrylamide content. Fun fact: one of the ways they may accomplish this goal is by artificially adding a chemical (OK, an enzyme) which works to neutralize acrylamide’s precursors. (Rosie Mestel, “Booster Shots” blog, L.A. Times, Aug. 4).
More: Bill Childs adds, “Oh, and the companies will pay California around $2.5 million.”
- Google beats Perfect 10 in Ninth Circuit appeal over copyright suit over thumbnail images. (Earlier: Feb. 06, Jul. 05, Nov. 04.) [LA Times; WaPo; Bashman; Perfect 10 v. Amazon (9th Cir. 2007)]
- Judge thinks better over Brent Coon’s attempt to intimidate local press through subpoenas. Earlier: Apr. 24. [WSJ Law Blog]
- US Supreme Court throws out punitive damages ruling in Buell-Wilson case, lets rest of decision stand. Earlier: Jan. 4 and links therein. Beck and Herrmann also discussed the case in March in the context of a larger discussion of the appropriateness of issuing punitive damages against a company that relied on government safety standards in good faith. [LA Times; AP].
- Big LA Times piece on the still-pending Extreme Makeover suit, where a family seeks to hold ABC responsible for an intra-household dispute over the spoils of a reality show. Earlier: Mar. 4, Aug. 12, 2005. [LA Times]
- KFC may have won on trans-fats litigation, as David reported May 3, but they capitulate to Jerry Brown’s pursuit of Lockyer’s equally bogus acrylamide suit over the naturally-occurring chemical in potatoes (Oct. 05, Aug. 05, Aug. 05, May 05, Apr. 04, etc.). KFC will pay a nuisance settlement of $341,000 and will add a meaningless warning in California stores. (Tim Reiterman, “KFC to tell customers of chemical in potatoes”, LA Times Apr. 25).
- McDonald’s sued over hot coffee. Again. One of the allegations is that McDonald’s failed to secure the lid, which is a legitimate negligence suit, but there’s also a bogus “failure to warn me that coffee is hot” count. [Southeast Texas Record; and a Southeast Texas Record op-ed that plainly read Overlawyered on the subject]