This issue could/should unite everyone including real libertarians. Of course, there's many good and debate-able points to be made about the commons vs. private property, but IMO we all have the inalienable right to clean air, water, land, food etc.
Up here in Canada the laws are slightly different but we do have a number of cases in the works that revolve around 'the public trust doctrine'. In Alberta, for instance, Nikiforuk recently wrote about two of five families forced from their homes by chronic air pollution from oil sands facilities in Peace River that have filed a court injection to stop Baytex Energy from using the atmosphere as a toxic garbage dump. Clearly a case of rights in conflict - the right of actual breathing lifeforms to breathe clean air, versus, the right of corporate shareholders to make as much damned money as possible.
Another Canadian case being heard today in Federal Court in Vancouver sees five environmental groups, including the David Suzuki Foundation and the Wilderness Committee, taking the federal government to court, claiming it has failed to meet its responsibilities under the Species at Risk Act to protect endangered wildlife threatened by the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
The job of courts in both countries, and many others, is often to adjudicate when rights between parties are in conflict. Leaving aside for now the ridiculous issue of corporate person-hood, it still seems obvious to me [an confessed libertarian lefty] that as the Supreme Court of India put it, “Today, every person exercising his or her right to use the air, water, or land and associated natural ecosystems has the obligation to secure for the rest of us the right to live or otherwise use that same resource or property for the long term and enjoyment by future generations.” The beauty of the Indian decision is that it covers both our rights and our responsibility toward others not to trample on theirs.
Unfortunately, almost every government and court on earth are deeply corrupted by "the very forces that gain from looting and destroying the commons assets they are prescribed to protect." - OTC. Fortunately protecting the public trust is not just a matter for governments because we all have the responsibility to protect the right of each other and future generations
Good luck to 'em. Win or lose though, if nothing else, it raises a question that John Locke, perhaps the single greatest influence on the shaping of American government, answered long ago when he wrote: “...whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people” they “put themselves into a state of war with the people,” who are thereupon “absolved from any farther obedience” and are “left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence.” When legislators “either by ambition, fear, folly or corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people” by their “breach of trust” they “forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends.” Then that power “devolves to the people,” who have a right to “resume their original liberty”, and, “by the establishment of a new legislative, (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own safety and security.” - quote from a new book by Mary Christina Wood titled 'Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age'
Mary and i'll see ya at the barricades!