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California's environmental litigation is a job killer

Posted by Dorothy Rothrock, on Nov. 23, 2011

For those who doubt that litigation risk in California is a job killer, I recommend that you read a November 14 piece in the Los Angeles Times, “Firms turning to environmental law to combat rivals.”

This blog will serve as my public letter to the editor.  The one I sent was not placed.

Here's a portion of the article:

Environmental advocates say the focus on why groups use CEQA is misplaced. "You shouldn't really be looking at motivations of petitioners," said Doug Carstens, an environmental lawyer in Santa Monica who often files CEQA complaints. "Even if it's a solely economically motivated actor, if they're promoting transparency, good government, why not?"


It’s shameful that a California lawyer endorses the idea that lawsuits to enforce environmental laws can be “solely economically motivated.”  The impact of this goes way beyond the sheer number of lawsuits and the size of awards and settlements - Companies spend uncounted millions to protect themselves against such litigation, with no environmental benefit. These are dollars that could be spent on expansions, modernization, and innovation to create new jobs.

The evidence is in – we are losing investment and employment to other states that are not hindering employers with costly litigation. Data from Site Selection Magazine shows that California is among the worst in the country in new manufacturing facilities and expansions, averaging only two percent of the country's new growth in the last decade.  

Further, a recent study, commissioned by City Journal, used the National Establishment Time Series database to reveal the scope of California's problems -- "snuffed-out start-ups, unproductive big cities, poorer jobs, and tinier, weaker, or fleeing companies."  One key statistic from the study: California had a net loss of 260,000 jobs from start-ups and closures in the last decade.  In the 90's, we had a net gain of 776,000.


2 comments | Post your comment

Comments: 2

dan t.

Nov. 27, 2011 7:44 am

I can see why the LA Times rejected this letter to the editor. The logic inside it is weak and smacks of the same tired conservative meme -- environmentalism costs jobs -- without offering anything new. Yes, California has stronger environmental protections and yes California has lost manufacturing jobs. Implying a cause and effect to these two statements, however, is intellectually dishonest. California may well have lost jobs to Oregon, North Carolina, and Texas for a much simpler reason: It's too damned expensive to live there. Especially if you're talking about manufacturing jobs, which are much more subject to local economies and wage scales. That LA Times story is mostly about rapacious corporations abusing environmental laws for their own gain. That's what you should be complaining about. As for that City Journal study? Chock full of fascinating statistics, followed by a final paragraph of totally off the wall speculation. That study was funded by the Hertog/Simon Fund, which has a clear conservative bias. Sorry, your argument isn't working for me. cheers dt


Dec. 5, 2011 12:26 pm

California is more expensive place to live, operate a facility, and work. There are many reasons for this. One is the state's overly litigious conditions. When a lawyer endorses lawsuits that are "solely economically motivated," (as opposed to improving the environment) that hurts our economy, employers and workers.

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