Senior Fellow Randy T. Simmons, co-editor of Aquanomics, looks at the battles over water in the western United States. Thirsty citizens of growing cities, farmers, factories and environmentalists are in a fight for a natural resource that is priced arbitrarily. Its value is determined not by the free market, but by bureaucrats. Outdated government reclamation projects and water policies have put residents of the Golden State at the mercy of the weather, and of government's mandatory regulations.
Environmental quality has been a major public concern since the first Earth Day in 1970, yet the maze of environmental regulations enacted since has fostered huge government bureaucracies better known for waste and failure than for innovation and success.
In June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. New London that local governments may force property owners to sell out and to make way for private economic development, even if the property is not blighted. In response, many states have passed legislation and proposed amendments to their state constitutions to block this unprecedented government assault on the rights of property owners.