• replace the command-and-control regulations imposed by the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts with emissions trading regimes; • replace the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act with a consumer products labeling program under the auspices of the Food and Drug Administration; • repeal the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and privatize the cleanup of Superfund sites; • replace the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act with minimal standards for discharge into groundwater aquifers; • privatize federal lands by granting ownership rights to existing users and auctioning off the remaining lands; • eliminate federal subsidies and programs that exacerbate environmental damage; and • replace the Endangered Species Act and section 404 of the Clean Water Act with a federal biological trust fund.
Federal environmental policy is horribly off track, and the debate over what to do about it is characterized by a lack of rigorous thinking. Any discussion of how to reform this or that statute must begin with a discussion of why the statute is there in the first place. Only then can an informed discussion begin about the appropriate role of government in environmental protection. The details of that role must, of necessity, come last.
Air sheds, watersheds, groundwater, scenic lands, and ecologically important but sensitive ecosystems are widely considered “public goods.”