Jonathan Wood

Attorney

D.C.

Jonathan Wood is an attorney at PLF’s DC Center, where he litigates environmental, property rights, and constitutional cases. He is passionate about finding constitutional, effective, and fair solutions to environmental problems. He believes that property rights are our greatest tool for improving the environment and, through PLF, he fights to defend those rights every day.

Jonathan stumbled into his interest in property rights and free market environmentalism while pursuing a master’s degree at the London School of Economics. He spent his time in college at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook ’em) thinking he would be an academic economist. But, in grad school, he studied Namibia’s free market environmental reforms and learned how important clear and secure property rights are to protecting everything from water quality to endangered species.

Jonathan’s burgeoning interest in libertarian environmentalism led him to the NYU School of Law, home of several leading libertarian law scholars and a premier environmental law program. During law school, he worked for the Cato Institute, a federal judge, and PLF. Since joining the PLF team after law school, Jonathan’s work has focused on defending and promoting property rights’ role in protecting the environment and fighting government actions that trample liberty without any benefit to the environment, especially overcriminalization and constitutional violations.

In addition to his work for PLF, Jonathan is an Adjunct Fellow with the Property and Environment Research Center, a member of the Executive Board for the Federalist Society’s Environmental Law and Property Rights Practice Group, and publishes FREEcology—a blog on libertarian environmentalism.

Jonathan Wood is an attorney at PLF’s DC Center, where he litigates environmental, property rights, and constitutional cases. He is passionate about finding constitutional, effective, and fair solutions to environmental problems. He believes that property rights are our greatest tool for improving the environment and, through PLF, he fights to defend those rights every day.

Jonathan stumbled into his interest in property rights and free market environmentalism while pursuing a master’s degree at the London School of Economics. He spent his time in college at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook ’em) thinking he would be an academic economist. But, in grad school, he studied Namibia’s free market environmental reforms and learned how important clear and secure property rights are to protecting everything from water quality to endangered species.

Jonathan’s burgeoning interest in libertarian environmentalism led him to the NYU School of Law, home of several leading libertarian law scholars and a premier environmental law program. During law school, he worked for the Cato Institute, a federal judge, and PLF. Since joining the PLF team after law school, Jonathan’s work has focused on defending and promoting property rights’ role in protecting the environment and fighting government actions that trample liberty without any benefit to the environment, especially overcriminalization and constitutional violations.

In addition to his work for PLF, Jonathan is an Adjunct Fellow with the Property and Environment Research Center, a member of the Executive Board for the Federalist Society’s Environmental Law and Property Rights Practice Group, and publishes FREEcology—a blog on libertarian environmentalism.

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Procedural Guarantees

American Federation of Aviculture v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Thriving golden parakeets no longer need Endangered Species Act protection

Thanks to the efforts of private breeders, the golden parakeet is no longer threatened with extinction. Although the federal government acknowledges the bird’s tenfold increase in numbers, it has refused to comply with a law that requires it to make a final decision to delist or downlist the parakeet within 12 months of that finding. On behalf of a coalition of breeders and bird owners, the American Federation of Aviculture, PLF is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force it to comply with the law, reclassify the golden parakeet, and lift onerous restrictions that prevent breeders from selling to all other breeders.

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Procedural Guarantees

People v. Rinehart

Golden State no more? California bans gold prospecting

California’s original Forty-Niners made their fortunes in gold with shovels and pans. Modern-day prospectors use a “suction dredge” – a specialized vacuum – to suck up sediment from streams, extract the gold, and then return the sediment to the stream. Federal law not only permits but encourages suction dredge mining, even on federal lands, while states retain the right to require permits and regulate environmental impacts. Unsatisfied with this balanced approach, California banned suction-dredge mining entirely. Brandon Rinehart, who profitably mined his Nugget Alley claim in the Plumas National Forest for years, was convicted of violating the ban over his defense that the ban is preempted by the federal Mining Act of 1872.

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Procedural Guarantees

Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association v. Ross

President Obama’s abuse of Antiquities Act declares 5,000 square miles of ocean off-limits

The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to declare monuments on “land owned or controlled by the Federal government” to protect their historic or scientific value. On his way out of office, President Obama used this power to declare a 5,000 square mile area of the ocean to be the Northeast Canyons and Seamount Marine National Monument. Because the ocean is not “land owned or controlled by the Federal government,” PLF represents a coalition of fishing industry associations in a lawsuit challenging this abuse of the statute, which renders off-limits areas long used for sustainable commercial fishing near New England and the East Coast.

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Post

By Jonathan Wood

Yes, Trump can revoke national monuments

The Washington Post has published my op-ed defending the President’s power to revoke existing national monuments Several months ago, President Trump ordered a review of the last 21 years of monument designations For good reason, the evidence is indisputable that abuse of the monument power has been far worse the last few years

Whether you think revoking any particular monument is a good idea or not, you should reject the short-sighted legal arguments being pressed against that power

Without law or history on their side, opponents of the review are left with an argument that would have repercussions far beyond the Antiquities Act

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Op-Ed

Yes, Trump can revoke national monuments

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has finally completed a months-long review of dozens of controversial national monuments, recommending major changes to 10 monuments, including shrinking six and relaxing regulation of the other four

Before the specific recommendations became public, the president’s opponents were already threatening lawsuits, claiming the president has no authority to change existing monuments With the recommendations now public, it is only a matter of time before the litigation floodgates open

Everyone should take a deep breath There are many reasons to criticize the president, but embracing tenuous legal theories for the sake of political expediency is a mistake

The conflict over the Antiquities Act — the 1906 law governing

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Post

By Jonathan Wood

PLF asks Supreme Court to restore constitutional limits on federal power

Our Constitution limits the federal government’s powers to those expressly listed in the document But the government we have today is a far cry from the limited government described by our Founding Fathers

PLF is asking the Supreme Court to restore the Constitution’s limits by rejecting an extreme, limitless interpretation of the Commerce Clause Representing People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners, we are challenging federal overreach under the Endangered Species Act

For decades, a federal regulation kept the people of southwestern Utah from doing things that the rest of us take for granted in our own communities They were blocked from building homes, starting small businesses, even protecting playgrounds, an

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Post

By Jonathan Wood

PLF sends dilatory Service notice of a lawsuit threequel

What does it take to get the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to follow the law? For the citizens of Bonner County, Idaho, and members of the Idaho State Snowmobile Association, the answer is AT LEAST one petition, two formal comment letters, and three federal lawsuits. That’s ridiculous!

This past Friday, on behalf of Bonner County and ISSA, PLF sent a 60-day notice of our intent to sue the Service for failing to reach a final determination on its May 2014 proposal to remove the Southern Selkirk Mountains population of caribou from the Endangered Species List. The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to issue a final rule on a proposal within one year. The Service is over two years late meeting that obligation.

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Post

By Jonathan Wood

New Jersey goes all in on the Constitution in sports betting case

Can Congress dictate to states what their own laws must be? Anyone familiar with federalism will likely immediately say “no.” Our Founders drafted a Constitution that preserved the independence of the the states, believing that dividing power between the federal government and the states would be a bulwark to protect our liberty. To preserve the Founders’ design, the Supreme Court has said that the federal government cannot “commandeer” the states by requiring them to adopt or enforce federal policy.

Yet the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, passed by Congress in 1992, purports to tell most states—but not others—that they must forbid sports gambling. In particular, it forbids states from “authorizing” sports betting “by law,” which means that those states that forbade sports betting in 1992 must continue doing so forever. That’s unconstitutional.

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Post

By Jonathan Wood

Pacific Legal Foundation Applauds Administration’s Monument Review

Today, the Department of Interior and Secretary Zinke announced the conclusion of an extensive, public review of national monuments The agency has not disclosed its recommendations for individual monuments, which will be made public after the President reviews them But the report leaves no doubt that past Antiquities Act abuse has been a serious problem and that President Trump has the authority to modify existing monument boundaries, including significant reductions in size if necessary or appropriate to comply with the text and purpose of the Act

If the President follows through on recommendations to modify, reduce, or revoke any monument, he will be on

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