Costs and Benefits of Pollution Control in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, 1840-1906

By Rosen, Christine Meisner | The Geographical Review, April 1998 | Go to article overview

Costs and Benefits of Pollution Control in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, 1840-1906


Rosen, Christine Meisner, The Geographical Review


In 1866 James Andrews, who owned a farm in western Pennsylvania, went to court to stop the operation of a neighbor's brick factory because it was emitting smoke and acrid fumes that were severely damaging grapevines, his orchards, and other trees, shrubbery, and plants. A few years later the owner of a 40-acre rural estate in New York sought to end operation of a brick factory the smoke and foul fumes from which were damaging his grapevines, trees, and ornamental plants. Both cases went to trial, and each was appealed to its state's highest court. In the first case, Huckenstein's Appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the trial court's decision to impose the injunction, depriving the plaintiff of relief from the pollution created by the brick kiln. In Campbell v. Seaman the New York Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision to impose the injunction (Huckenstein's Appeal (1871); Campbell v. Seaman (1876); see Appendix I for full citations of cases).

From a geographical perspective, the differences in how these two legal suits were adjudicated are at least as interesting as are the similarities. In both instances the justices who issued the final decisions grappled with a dilemma of fundamental importance to all industrializing societies: how best to reconcile the often-conflicting goals of environmental quality and business growth. In each case, decisions were based on balancing doctrine, a legal tenet that required consideration of the economic costs and benefits of imposing an injunction on a defendant and the placement of injunctions only where the benefits exceeded the costs. The judges evaluated costs and benefits in sharply - indeed, almost bizarrely - contrasting ways. Taken in the context of similar cases, the contradictory decisions illuminate how profoundly state political and economic structures shaped the judicial thinking that lay at the heart of nineteenth-century common law.(1)

In Huckenstein's Appeal the justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court gave short shrift to the benefit side; the plaintiff would be unprotected from the damages he was suffering as a result of the defendant's pollution. They declared the plaintiffs suffering of little import because such pollution was the sort of discomfort to which people "voluntarily subject themselves . . . for the great benefit they think they derive" from living and doing business in modern cities (Huckenstein's Appeal (1871), 107).

Judges reserved special eloquence for discussion of the enormous private cost an injunction might pose were the polluter forced to shut down: "A court exercising the power of a chancellor, whose arm may fall with crushing force upon the every-day business of men . . . cannot approach such cases as this with too much caution. Its aid is not of right but of grace, and it must be sure that the exercise of this kingly power is just, wise and proper, before it takes from a citizen his means of livelihood, and destroys the value of his property for legitimate uses" (Huckenstein's Appeal (1871), 106-107).

The defendant could not easily and cheaply close a kiln, relocate it, and put the original site to an equally profitable use, judges held. They believed, instead, that an injunction would both destroy a business and significantly diminish property value. Finally, they used the logic of social balancing to imply that injunctions in this kind of case would lead to the destruction of all urban life.

By contrast, in Campbell v. Seaman justices of the New York Court of Appeals envisioned enormous benefits in protecting a plaintiff from the defendant's pollution. They not only contemplated actual damage to the plaintiffs vegetation caused by sulfuric fumes but also asserted that injury to the plaintiffs feelings and quality of life were beyond calculation: "How can one be compensated in damages for the destruction of his ornamental trees, and the flowers and vines which surrounded his home? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Costs and Benefits of Pollution Control in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, 1840-1906
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.