Conservative Principles for Environmental Reform

Michigan Green Institute

Written by Jonathan Adler, published in the the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum, Spring 2013 Issue entitled “Conservation Visions of Our Environmental Future.”
Major environmental policy reform is long overdue. The current regulatory architecture was erected in the 1970s. Since then meaningful reforms have been few and far between. A few reforms and regulatory expansions were adopted in the 1980s, and Congress enacted significant reforms to the Clean Air Act in 1990. Only the most minor environmental bills have been enacted since then.

In 1996, Richard Stewart observed that conventional environmental regulation was a “failing paradigm.” At the same time, analysts at Resources for the Future concluded that America’s environmental regulatory system was “deeply and fundamentally flawed.”  Other contemporaneous reviews of federal environmental regulation reached similar conclusions.  Yet, little has happened. Despite these and other calls for reform, the environmental regulatory system remains largely the same as…

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