Adventures in Legal Obstructionism, Part I: An Ill Wind Blows on Alternative Energy

On April 28, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved the development of 130 wind turbines off the coast of Massachusetts.

Ironically, the project might not go forward owing to the soon-to-be-filed lawsuits of environmental activist groups—the same groups that have long clamored for such alternative energy sources.  The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Three Bays Preservation, Animal Welfare Institute, Industrial Wind Action Group, Californians for Renewable Energy, Oceans Public Trust Initiative, and others claim that they “will not stand by and allow our treasured public lands to be marred forever by a corporate giveaway to private industrial groups.”

It seems that this project’s opponents feel wind power is a good thing, but it should be generated on somebody else’s land.  As this post by Edward John Craig so aptly points out, the complaint “is a tale of green hypocrisy and aggrieved NIMBYism.  It details the efforts of some of our favorite environmentally holier-than-thou [activists] to prevent a wind farm in Nantucket Sound.”

One wonders why Virginians or New Yorkers should be forced to erect towering white turbines if Bay Staters don’t have to do the same.

Adventures in Legal Obstructionism, Part II: Activists’ Relentless Fight Against Electricity

While activists in the north engage in internecine warfare over wind power, their cohorts in the south continue their determined legal maneuvering to halt development of new coal-fired power plants.  As the ClimateIntel blog noted yesterday, several organizations have filed petitions with the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings to block emissions permits for two plants. 

Such challenges are certainly not unusual.  This one is especially notable, however, because activists had previously opposed one of the targeted plants — to be built in Early County — on the grounds that the state-awarded permits didn’t account for greenhouse gas emissions under the federal Clean Air Act.  In 2008, a state trial judge’s ruling blocked the permits even though, as a Washington Legal Foundation paper on the decision argued, EPA hadn’t yet determined whether carbon dioxide was an air pollutant.   The victory was short-lived though, as a state appellate court set aside the lower court’s results-oriented ruling, remarking that a contrary result “would engulf a wide range of potential CO2 emitters in Georgia … in a flood of litigation over permits, and impose far-reaching economic hardship on the State.”

Undeterred by this court’s ruling, or apparently, the implications of higher energy costs, Atlanta-based group GreenLaw and other legal activists are now shopping their grievances in another forum.  One hopes Georgia administrative officials will consider, as the Georgia Appeals Court did, the interests of state citizens above and beyond the national agendas of narrow ideologues. 

FDA Ad Police Cultivate a New Informant: Your Doctor

For an agency that has complete veto power over the release of drugs and devices, the Food & Drug Administration must find regulating the promotion of such products rather frustrating.  Thanks to that pesky First Amendment, it can’t simply ban advertising for or prohibit all discussion about those products.  But it can, and rather vigorously does, enforce vague rules on what marketers can say about their products. FDA does this through random warning letters which offer no binding guidance to regulated entities.

FDA’s disdain for drug promotion, and its desire to ensnare more companies and thus chill more speech, are both apparent in a new program its marketing regulation division, DDMAC, announced on May 11 called the “Bad Ad Program.”  The program urges doctors and other care providers to discover “misleading prescription drug promotion” and report it to FDA.  The agency will target doctors at medical conventions and work with medical societies to swell the ranks of informants.   Continue reading “FDA Ad Police Cultivate a New Informant: Your Doctor”