Matthew Yglesias denounces the actions of class traitor Sidley Austin, Michelle Obama's old law firm, in using the environmental laws to slow down environmentalists' plans for that SWPL favorite, light rail. (Trolleys without right-of-ways are barely more efficient than buses, but SWPLs can imagine themselves taking a trolley, but they shudder at the thought of riding a bus with all those ... uh, well, you know ...)
One thing law firms do is take cases on a pro bono basis. You get some prestige for doing so, and it helps underscore the legal profession’s self-conception as serving the higher calling of the law. The general idea here, of course, is that you’re supposed to be helping out indigent clients or some kind of do-gooder causes.
Meanwhile, in DC’s Maryland suburbs we’re inching ever closer to actually starting work on the Purple Line light rail. This would connect several destinations that are already served by transit and walkable transit-oriented development, provide transit access to the University of Maryland’s main campus, and also create the possibility of new transit-oriented development at additional stops along the way. It’s a good idea that will help reduce congestion on the Beltway, reduce carbon emissions, and enhance the region’s ability to keep growing in a sustainable manner. Every environmental group in the city is for it. But a group of NIMBYs centered around the town of Chevy Chase, MD and the Columbia Country Club are trying to block it in order to keep the riffraff out and are offering some spurious environmental claims to try to block construction.
They’ve engaged the large DC firm of Sidley Austin to help them in their fight. And Sidley’s doing the work pro bono — for free — as charity. No doubt in part this is because Joseph Guerra is both a partner in the firm and the husband of the woman co-chairing the NIMBY effort. Perhaps some of the firms partners are members of the Country Club as well. Who knows? But this is certainly a strange definition of charitable work. They might want to ask some of the people working for the firm on the bottom rungs — the janitors and so forth — if they really appreciate these kind of “charitable” efforts to deny poor people any better commuting options than the bus?
Why can’t Sidley Austin figure out that environmental laws are only supposed to slow down bad people, like conservative developers, but not nice liberal people who are trying to build stuff that Matthew Yglesias wants?
Progressives didn’t spend 40 years setting up a vast web of environmental and other land use regulations that make it glacially slow to build anything on either coast in order to hurt progressives. Therefore, environmental laws should _not_ apply to progressives. Any law firm that uses environmental laws to frustrate Matthew Yglesias’s desires is a traitor and should be dealt with. As Lenin said, the eternal question is always “Who? Whom?”
Bulldoze, baby, bulldoze!
You can’t have a bunch of environmentalist red tape holding back Yglesias’s Robert Moses-like ambitions to bulldoze anything standing in the way of his vision of a better future. Now that progressives have power, they must deregulate the environment so nobody can slow down their efforts to save the environment.
And while they're at it, progressives should deregulate all the affirmative action minority set-aside contract regulations that slow infrastructure construction so badly.