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.

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

Government-sanctioned private land grabs over absent animals are illegal

The U.S. Supreme Court opened its fall term on October 1, 2018, with the famous “frog case” out of Louisiana. That’s where federal regulators declared more than 1,500 acres of private land as a critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog—a species not seen in the state for more than 50 years. PLF client Edward Poitevent owns 95 p ...

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August 14, 2019

Reform the Endangered Species Act by respecting property rights

Update: On August 12, 2019, as a result of PLF petitions, the Department of the Interior announced changes that will improve the way the Endangered Species Act is applied — changes that will benefit property owners and species. Interior's new rules terminate an illegal and counterproductive rule that complicated the recovery of endangered species ...

April 22, 2019

The Hill: This Earth Day, reflect on the environmental progress made possible by human flourishing

This article was originally published by The Hill on April 22, 2019. Today marks the 50th Earth Day, an appropriate time to pause and reflect on how far things have come since April 22, 1970. It's also an occasion to consider what past progress can teach us about today's environmental challenges. If an attendee of the first Earth ...

April 09, 2019

The President’s abuse of the Antiquities Act violates the Constitution’s separation of powers

In 1972, Congress authorized the Executive Branch to set aside special areas of the marine environment—including the ocean up to 200 miles from the nation's coast—as marine sanctuaries. However, it imposed appropriate limits on this power—requiring public notice of proposed sanctuaries, studies of environmental tradeoffs, and input from Congr ...

April 07, 2019

Salt Lake Tribune: Why punish people who try to clean up pollution? Here’s a better way forward.

This article was originally published by The Salt Lake Tribune on April 7, 2019. In 2015, the Animas River in Colorado turned orange as three million gallons of water containing high concentrations of heavy metals and other toxins gushed from a site where the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was attempting to clean up an ...

March 29, 2019

In win for property rights and the environment, Maine Supreme Judicial Court sides with coastal property owners

In Ross v. Acadian Seaplants LTD, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court was asked to defend the rights of a coastal property owner against a large corporation's assertion of the power to harvest rockweed from private property without owner consent. On Thursday, the court issued its long awaited decision, siding with the property owner. Because the ...

March 25, 2019

The Hill: Here’s why Congress, not the president, should lead on environmental protection

This article was originally published in The Hill on March 25, 2019. Last month, Congress approved a massive, bipartisan federal lands bill, designating five new national monuments, 1.3 million acres of wilderness, 620 rivers as wild and scenic, and permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This legislative undertaking "tou ...