March 01, 2012

Toward More Rational Environmental Enforcement

Patrick J. Paul

Established on December 2, 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now in its fifth decade. Today, the nation’s environmental regulatory program consists not only of EPA, but also of various state and local environmental authorities who act often with a delegation of authority from EPA. Over its 42-year existence, the nation’s physical environment certainly has improved, as has human awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship. For example, today, recycling is the social norm and in many jurisdictions, the law. Likewise, U.S. citizens are, on average, living longer and healthier lives.

Credit for these improvements appropriately may, in part, be given to EPA as well as a number of other federal and state agencies charged with protecting aspects of human health and the physical environment, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Credit for these advances, however, also must be provided to individual and business innovators and job creators. Pharmaceutical advancements to improve and extend the quality of life as well as similar advancements in cures, treatments, and awareness of breast and prostate cancers, point to remarkable human progress. Alternative fuel vehicles, renewable energy development, and green construction demonstrate collaborative environmental and development progress.

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