Jonathan Wood

Attorney DC

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.

Kansas Natural Resource Coalition v. Department of Interior

Bad rulemaking threatens good conservation

A buffalo rancher by trade, Ken Klemm also uses his 4,000-acre ranch in Kansas for conservation efforts. In fact, Klemm works with the Kansas Natural Resource Coalition (KNRC) to implement a conservation plan for the lesser prairie chicken. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers such local collaboration for determining endangered listings und ...

Tugaw Ranches, LLC. v. U.S. Department of Interior

Illegal rulemaking threatens livelihoods

Like many western U.S. ranching families, the Picketts have worked on the same land in Idaho for many generations and have a thriving business selling naturally raised beef. And like many ranchers, their business depends on grazing permissions on federal land. But their livelihoods are threatened by rules that set aside over 65-million acres of fed ...

Vaping Litigation

The Constitution going up in vapor

Electronic nicotine delivery systems—vaping devices and e-cigarettes—first hit U.S. stores in 2007. It didn’t take long for vaping to jump from zero to a $5 billion domestic industry, as entrepreneurs quickly recognized a market hungry for an alternative to traditional cigarettes. In 2016, just as the burgeoning vaping industry was gettin ...

Bears Ears National Monument Litigation

Defending public lands access for all

In December 2016, under cover of the Antiquities Act, President Obama unilaterally created the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument. One year later, President Trump slashed the size of the monument by 85 percent—to around 200,000 acres, freeing up more than one million acres for public use. Outerwear retailer Patagonia, environmental gr ...

Town of Coos Bay, Oregon v. National Marine Fisheries Service

Endangered Species Act abuse forces federal zoning control on local communities

Federal bureaucrats are twisting environmental and emergency management law to control zoning across Oregon, including its treasured coastal regions. At issue is a National Marine Fisheries Service opinion that governs FEMA’s national flood insurance program. Under the rule, local communities wanting federal flood insurance must abstain from ...

Weyerhaeuser/Markle v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Supreme Court hears “phantom frog” case

As a child, Edward Poitevent’s family cut down Christmas trees on their lumber-rich land in Louisiana, and one day he’d like to leave the property to his own children. But federal bureaucrats jeopardized his legacy when they declared nearly 1,500 acres of his family’s private land as a critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog— ...

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January 25, 2019

Reducing forest fire risks requires market incentives, free enterprise

Originally published in The Hill, January 25, 2019. In a rare example of bipartisanship, last week the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed two Republican-sponsored bills to increase funding for fire-reduction projects in federal, state and private forests. Although there is heated disagreement over the causes of the recent increas ...

November 26, 2018

Solving the wildfire crisis requires free-market solutions

Originally published by The Hill, November 26, 2018. The devastating fires burning in California are a vivid reminder of the urgent need to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. In 2018, California has set records for the largest wildfire and the deadliest wildfire on record, the latter being the still-burning Camp Fire near the town ...

October 25, 2018

Recognizing grizzly’s recovery would spur further conservation

Originally published in the Las Vegas Sun, October 25, 2018. When Lewis and Clark encountered the grizzly bear, they described it as a "most tremendous looking animal" but also a terrifying one. To this day, Americans marvel at the bear's majesty — but preferably from a safe distance. Tragically, the United States' rapid western expansion ...

October 25, 2018

Victory: Activists’ effort to worsen overcriminalization ends with a whimper

In 2013, several environmental activist groups launched a lawsuit to expand the criminal reach of the Endangered Species Act. They challenged the United States’ longstanding interpretation of the statutes, which makes it a crime to “knowingly” “take” a protected species, to require defendants know their actions will ca ...

October 20, 2018

Highest Poverty Rate in the Nation: California’s Self-Inflicted Crisis

Originally published by Western Journal, October 20, 2018. The California tech boom should have been the engine for widely shared prosperity and renewal. Instead, contrary to the state's uber-progressive reputation, California has the highest real poverty rate in the nation. One-fifth of the population of the state falls below the poverty line when ...

October 08, 2018

How much would you pay to protect an endangered species?

Originally published by The Hill, October 8, 2018. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the nation's most popular environmental law. In a time when Americans seemingly are divided on everything, there is nearly unanimous support for the goal of recovering rare species. Unfortunately, that popularity has not translated into the political will to fund ...