Thursday, September 23, 2010

Make the rules or your rivals will

We have blogged in the past about the use of local zoning laws by incumbents to keep out rivals, like Wal-Mart.  Environmental regulations can be used in much the same way:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is fighting back against a longtime corporate-sabotage campaign undertaken by grocery competitors to slow its growth.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer recently asked judges to require its opponents to disclose who is footing the legal bills in four out of the dozens of California lawsuits against Wal-Mart that have helped delay the company's expansion.

Lawyers for Wal-Mart want to know if the protracted environmental suits have been funded not by grass-roots activists, as the company long thought, but rather by competitors. "We believe the court and the community have a right to know who is funding the suits," said Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar.

Of course, the First Amendment protects the rights of people and firms to engage in this kind of advocacy:

"The work we do helps to level the playing field as regular citizens try to fight back against the world's largest retailer and the impact of big-box development in their communities," Mr. Fox said.

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