Pacific Legal Foundation
Pacific Legal Foundation, founded in 1973, is the oldest, largest and perhaps most influential “public interest law firm” dedicated to limited government and individual rights. It sees itself as the “conservative counterpart to the American Civil Liberties Union.” In their groundbreaking report on corporate front groups in 1991, Mark Megallis and Andy Friedman wrote that for nearly twenty years the PLF had “come to the defence of chemical manufacturers, oil producers, mining and timber companies, real estate developers, the nuclear power industry and electric utlilities to name a few.”
The Greenpeace Guide to Anti-Environmental Organisations was equally damning: “In the more than 100 lawsuits PLF has been involved in since 1990, it has challenged federal clean water regulations, tried to exempt industry from hazardous waste clean up, moved to block wilderness designations and wetland protection, supported increased mining on public lands and opposed corporate taxation. On virtually every issue, PLF comes down squarely in opposition to environmentalists”
The Institute received $4,257,000 from 1985 to 2002, in 52 grants from the following eight foundations:
- Philip M McKenna Foundation
- Castle Rock Foundation
- Earhart Foundation
- John M. Olin Foundation
- Sarah Scaife Foundation
- Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
- Claude R. Lamb Foundation
- Carthage Foundation
- Richard R. Albrecht - Perkins Coie
- Thomas G. Bost - Pepperdine University School of Law
- James J. Busby - President and Owner Security Owners Corporation,
- John A. Campbell - Lachlan Investments
- James L. Cloud - Wells Fargo Bank,
- Greg M. Evans - Evans Management Services
- Leonard S. Frank - Pardee Homes
- Timothy R. Hall - T. R. Hall Land & Cattle Co.
- John C. Harris - Harris Farms, Inc.
- Wade L. Hopping - Hopping, Green & Sams
- Thomas C. Leppert - The Turner Corporation
- Warner C. Lusardi - Lusardi Construction Company
- Robert E. McCarthy - McCarthy & Rubright
- April J. Morris - Management Consultant
- Mark S. Pulliam - Latham & Watkins
- Jerry W.P. Schauffler - W.S.I. Builders, Inc. (Retired)
- Richard T. Thieriot - Parrott Investment Company
- Jeffrey T. Thomas - Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
- Charles W. Trainor - Trainor Robertson
- Ronlad E. Van Buskirk - Pillsbury Winthrop LLP
- Richard D. Williams - Williams, Smyth & Jacks LLP
- Donald Joe Willis - Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt
Opponent of ESA and other legislation that protects the environment
Long-standing opponent of the Endangered Species Action that co-ordinates The Endangered Species Act Reform Project. For example: In February 2001, the PLF sought to overturn the federal government’s listing of the Southern Oregon/Northern California coho salmon under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) .
It was the second time that the PLF had challenged salmon listings brought under the ESA. The year before two of the largest commercial fishing organizations on the west coast filed a suit to block efforts by the PLF and others to roll back Pacific salmon protections under the federal Endangered Species Act.
It has also challenged the listing of the tiny shorebirds the Western snowy plover from the ESA
"For over 30 years, environmental purists have actively promoted the pantheistic notion that plant and animal life rank higher on the species hierarchy than people," said the then PLF Vice President Dave Stirling, a conservative Republican and former chief deputy attorney general in California.
PLF Attorney Russell Brooks said the Endangered Species Act “is not just about taking care of furry little critters that have a large amount of public support. What it really means is that firefighters are dying in fires because they can't get water due to ESA restrictions. It means that houses are being flooded because the Army Corp of Engineers can't repair a levy due to ESA restrictions. It means that needed schools and hospitals either can't be built or end up being built at a far greater cost many years later because of ESA restrictions and permitting requirements. We are trying to raise awareness that the Endangered Species Act simply does not consider people. It only considers protecting species at any costs, at all costs, and no matter what the costs. Therefore, the ESA is a bad law because it doesn't consider the real world effects on people."
In 2002, PLF sued the United States Fish and Wildlife Service over its designation of 210 miles of Pacific coastline as critical habitat for the threatened western snowy plovers under the ESA.
Also long standing proponent of property rights and a “Defenders of Property Rights Partners” revived the argument that government regulations which restrict the use of private property constitute “takings” of property without just compensation, and thus violate the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
The PLF has also become involved in the celebrated cause of the Pilgrim family in Alaska who live in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve and want to build a road to their property. The Pilgrims are seen as “heroes” by the Wise Use leaders such as Chuck Cushman for standing up to the Bureaucratic park service.
The PLF lawsuit, filed in the District Court for the District of Alaska, charges that the Park Service has violated federal law that requires adequate and feasible access to private property owners within national parks and preserves.
- Address: 10360 Old Placerville Road, Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95827
- Web address: http://www.pacificlegal.org
-  M. Megalli & A. Friedman (1991) Masks of Deception: Corporate Front Groups in America, Essential Information, December.
-  C. Deal (1993) The Greenpeace Guide to Anti-Environmental Organizations, Odonian Press, p76
-  http://www.ewg.org/pub/home/clear/view/CV_Vol4_No7.html; C. Deal (1993) The Greenpeace Guide to Anti-Environmental Organizations, Odonian Press, p76
-  http://www.mediatransparency.org/search_results/info_on_any_recipient.php?1082
-  http://www.off-road.com/land/plf_fish_fight.html
-  http://www.pcffa.org/fn-cssr.htm
-  N. Farrell (2003) “Morro To Hire Lawyers To Help In Plover Fight”, The San Luis Obispo Tribune, 24 September
-  http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/2003Q2/fish.html
-  http://www.dailynexus.com/news/2002/3229.html
-  http://www.yourpropertyrights.org/about/links.asp
-  Land Letter (2003) Public Lands, National Parks And Endangered Species, 6 November.