There are so, so many environmental lawsuits, often brought by non-profits backed by philanthropists. These institutions, among other things, target polluting corporations and bring lawsuits against them for purposes of constructing a deterrent against yet more pollution. The Sierra Club and Greenpeace would be two examples, and of course a big chunk of the funds comes from the relatively wealthy. How is this for one example of many?:
On 7 October, Greenpeace filed a lawsuit in Superior Court for the District of Columbia against Dow Chemical, Sasol North America (owned by the South African State Oil Company), two public relations firms – Dezenhall Resources and Ketchum – and four individuals.
On top of that, it is easy enough to be an anonymous donor to these groups, and to stay anonymous. That said, I have heard tales — apocryphal perhaps — of donors who gave to environmental causes because they too earlier in their lives had suffered under the adverse effects of pollution. In back room whispers they are sometimes called “vengeance donors,” and it is suggested that because of the vengeance donors soon enough all companies will go out of business or at the very least be at the mercy of the whims of the wealthy.
Now, to be sure, many of these environmental lawsuits are excessive, or unfair, or would fail both a rights and cost-benefit test and we should condemn them, as indeed you see happening with equal frequency on the Left and on the Right. Many companies have gone out of business because of environmental lawsuits or the threat thereof, or perhaps the companies never got started in the first place because they couldn’t afford large enough legal departments. I can safely say that just about everyone sees the problem here.
But we shouldn’t condemn the good lawsuits, right? Right? Or is this whole philanthropic lawsuits business simply out of control and needs to be stopped altogether?
And oh, that Greenpeace lawsuit I linked to above? It actually wasn’t about environmental pollution at all, at least not directly. It was because Greenpeace felt it was under secretive and privacy-intruding surveillance. You should have seen my Twitter feed light up when the vengeance donors let on their role in that one.