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Free Market Environmental Protection

September 8, 1989

Report Outline
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Introduction

With pressure mounting to cut the budget deficit and make U.S. industry more competitive, some Bush administration officials say they have a way to make environmental protection more cost-effective: Offer industries financial incentives to clean up their own acts by charging, them for polluting and rewarding them if they don't. It is a free-market approach to the environment that has gained support even among some environmental groups, but critics worry that it simply will give businesses a license to pollute.

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Overview

In the nearly 20 years since environmentalists galvanized public opinion with the celebration of Earth Day, the federal government has passed dozens of laws and spent billions of dollars to clean up the environment. With a few notable exceptions, however, the environment still seems to be a mess. Summer smog alerts have become almost commonplace. Toxic wastes continue to leach into groundwater. Acid rain continues to fall. Medical wastes wash up on once pristine beaches. Scientists warn of the threat of global warming—the so-called “greenhouse effect”—caused by burning fossil fuels.

Now Congress and the Bush administration are weighing new campaigns to protect the environment. But even as they do so, the federal budget remains mired in deficit and U.S. industry is under siege from Japanese and European competition. Under current circumstances, says economist Robert N. Stavins of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, “if we're going to have environmental protection, we've got to do it at the least cost possible.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Environmental Protection
Sep. 20, 2013  Future of the Arctic
Jun. 14, 2013  Climate Change
Nov. 06, 2012  Vanishing Biodiversity
Nov. 02, 2012  Managing Wildfires
Nov. 04, 2011  Managing Public Lands
Aug. 26, 2011  Gulf Coast Restoration
Jul. 2010  Plastic Pollution
Feb. 2010  Climate Change
Jan. 09, 2009  Confronting Warming
Dec. 05, 2008  Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
Nov. 2008  Carbon Trading
Oct. 03, 2008  Protecting Wetlands
Feb. 29, 2008  Buying Green
Dec. 14, 2007  Future of Recycling
Nov. 30, 2007  Disappearing Species
Feb. 2007  Curbing Climate Change
Dec. 01, 2006  The New Environmentalism
Jan. 27, 2006  Climate Change
Oct. 25, 2002  Bush and the Environment
Oct. 05, 2001  Invasive Species
Nov. 05, 1999  Saving Open Spaces
Jun. 11, 1999  Saving the Rain Forests
May 21, 1999  Setting Environmental Priorities
Mar. 19, 1999  Partisan Politics
Oct. 16, 1998  National Forests
Jun. 19, 1998  Environmental Justice
Aug. 23, 1996  Cleaning Up Hazardous Wastes
Mar. 31, 1995  Environmental Movement at 25
Jun. 19, 1992  Lead Poisoning
May 15, 1992  Jobs Vs. Environment
Jan. 17, 1992  Oil Spills
Sep. 20, 1991  Saving the Forests
Apr. 26, 1991  Electromagnetic Fields: Are They Dangerous?
Sep. 08, 1989  Free Market Environmental Protection
Dec. 09, 1988  Setting Environmental Priorities
Jul. 29, 1988  Living with Hazardous Wastes
Dec. 20, 1985  Requiem for Rain Forests?
Aug. 17, 1984  Protecting the Wilderness
Jun. 15, 1984  Troubled Ocean Fisheries
Aug. 19, 1983  America's Disappearing Wetlands
Feb. 22, 1980  Noise Control
Nov. 16, 1979  Closing the Environmental Decade
Oct. 13, 1978  Toxic Substance Control
Feb. 27, 1976  Pollution Control: Costs and Benefits
Nov. 28, 1975  Forest Policy
May 30, 1975  Wilderness Preservation
Dec. 20, 1974  Environmental Policy
Nov. 14, 1973  Strip Mining
Dec. 01, 1971  Global Pollution
Jul. 21, 1971  Protection of the Countryside
Jan. 06, 1971  Pollution Technology
Jun. 19, 1968  Protection of the Environment
Oct. 30, 1963  Noise Suppression
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Air Pollution
Hazardous Substances and Nuclear Waste
Privatization of Government Functions
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