Jonathan Wood

Senior 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.

Skipper v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Illegal critical habitat designation punishes family’s voluntary conservation efforts

The Skipper family has owned forestland in Clarke County, Alabama, since 1902, which it manages for timber production and conservation. In 1956 they established the Scotch Wildlife Management Area (WMA), agreeing to voluntarily open their land for the state’s wildlife conservation efforts and outdoor recreation. In February 2020, the U.S. Fis ...

State of California v. Bernhardt

Motion to intervene filed to defend protections for property owners

In 2019, the Department of Interior changed the way that it applies the Endangered Species Act by rescinding an illegal rule. The changes offered additional protections for property owners—like Ken Klemm, who runs a 4,000-acre ranch in Kansas. The changes also incentivized property owners to assist in the recovery of species by loosening restrict ...

Bad rulemaking threatens good conservation 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 ...

Woman vaping 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 ...

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April 19, 2021

The Hill: Congress and the administration cannot play games with the Congressional Review Act

On March 19, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget acting director, requesting that the OMB freeze and repeal any previous administration regulations that were not sent to Congress as required by the Congressional Review Act (CRA). While Congress and the president have the authority to roll back ...

March 29, 2021

The Hill: Property rights are fundamental to a free society — and to conservation

This op-ed was coauthored by Brian Yablonski. Property rights are the foundation of a free society. They enable each of us to live according to our personal values and to pursue happiness in our own way, provided we don't violate anyone else's rights. That's why the federal Constitution and every state constitution explicitly protects our ...

March 17, 2021

The Congressional Review Act will rein in the regulatory state

The Congressional Review Act is one of the most important reforms Congress has enacted to rein in the regulatory state. It's a refreshingly short and simple law. Basically, if an agency wants to issue a rule regulating you or me, it must first submit that rule to our elected representatives in Congress for review. If ...

December 22, 2020

The Hill: To recover endangered species, reduce conflict and reward landowners who restore habitat

Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced two new regulations governing designation of privately owned land as "critical habitat" under the Endangered Species Act. This designation can restrict property rights, reduce land values, and make habitat features a significant liability for landowners. As with any change involving the Endang ...

September 15, 2020

Solving the wildfire crisis requires free-market solutions

***Editors note: This article originally appeared in 2018, but because of the massive wildfires currently raging in California, we are republishing to (again) show the free-market solutions that can help reduce natural disasters like this. Originally published by The Hill, November 26, 2018. The devastating fires burning in California are a vivid r ...

May 26, 2020

The Wall Street Journal: It’s about time we got a Bill of Rights for the regulatory state

One of the first actions of Congress in 1789 was proposing a bill of rights that limited government power and guaranteed the liberties of the American people. Power has since shifted from Congress to an unaccountable regulatory state, but there is no equivalent bill of rights to limit its power or protect liberty in the ...

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