An Environmental Competition Statute

BEYOND ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, Alyson Flournoy & David Driesen, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2009

17 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2009

See all articles by David M. Driesen

David M. Driesen

Syracuse University College of Law

Date Written: April 2, 2009


This chapter from a forthcoming Cambridge Press book, Beyond Environmental Law, proposes emulating free market dynamics with a new regulatory instrument, the Environmental Competition Statute. This statute would authorize any polluter making a pollution reduction to require a dirtier competitor to reimburse it for the full cost of making this improvement along with a preset profit margin. This creates an economic dynamic similar to that prevailing in very competitive markets. In such markets, those who innovate in effect take money from those who do not, by taking over a portion of their market share. This statute similarly allows environmental innovators to prosper at the expense of environmental laggards, thereby allowing environmental markets to function like other competitive markets.

This proposal has the potential to encourage contests to improve environmental quality comparable to the ongoing competition to realize other sorts of improvements. It aims to allow the capabilities of innovators free reign in improving environmental quality. It makes it possible for anybody reducing pollution to realize a profit from doing so. It systematically externalizes pollution control costs, just as polluters now externalize the costs of pollution. In short, an Environmental Competition Statute encourages competition to improve the environment. This chapter discusses the problems with existing environmental law, including existing market mechanisms that this statute seeks to overcome. It provides a detailed description of a number of operation details. And it defends the idea against possible objections.

Keywords: market mechanisms, economic incentives, instrument choice, environmental econonomics, innovation

JEL Classification: K32, O38, Q38, Q48

Suggested Citation

Driesen, David M., An Environmental Competition Statute (April 2, 2009). BEYOND ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, Alyson Flournoy & David Driesen, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2009, Available at SSRN:

David M. Driesen (Contact Author)

Syracuse University College of Law ( email )

Dineen Hall
950 Irving Ave.
Syracuse, NY, NY 13244
United States
315-443-4218 (Phone)
315-443-4141 (Fax)


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