Conservative Principles for Environmental Reform
23 Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum 101 (2013)
29 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2013 Last revised: 2 Dec 2020
Date Written: March 16, 2013
The existing environmental regulatory architecture, largely erected in the 1970s, is outdated and ill-suited to address contemporary environmental concerns. Any debate on the future of environmental protection, if it is to be meaningful, must span the political spectrum. Yet there is little engagement in the substance of environmental policy from the political right. Conservatives have largely failed to consider how the nation’s environmental goals may be best achieved. Perhaps as a consequence, the general premises underlying existing environmental laws have gone unchallenged and few meaningful reforms have proposed, let alone adopted. This essay, prepared for the Duke Law School conference on “Conservative Visions of Our Environmental Future,” represents a small effort to fill this void. Specifically, this essay briefly outlines a conservative alternative to the conventional environmental paradigm. After surveying contemporary conservative approaches to environmental policies, it briefly sketches some problems with the conventional environmental paradigm, particularly its emphasis on prescriptive regulation and the centralization of regulatory authority in the hands of the federal government. The essay then concludes with a summary of several environmental principles that could provide the basis for a conservative alternative to conventional environmental policies.
Keywords: property rights, free market environmentalism, environmental policy, environmental reform, environmental federalism, decentralization, conservatism, environmental law
JEL Classification: K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation