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Environmental Law
SUNY Buffalo Law School
Boyer, Barry B.

Environmental Law’s Foundations
A. Environmental Law’s Roots and Rationales

B. Environmentalism’s Rejection of Exploitation Expectations
1. Environmental Protection has evolved to include 3 broad objectives
1.) The reduction of the use of air, soil, and water media as sinks for waste disposal
2.) The protection of the public from long term health and ecosystem degradation risks associated with exposure to toxic and other harmful substances
3.) The conservation of biodiversity

These concepts cut across the Western civilizations consistently promoted material progress through the exploitation of nature’s bounty.

2. New Environmental Program (NEP)
Ø Rejects the assumption that economic growth, markets, and technological progress will address social ills and not unduly harm the environment
Ø Cannot continue the mass consumption – will swiftly deplete resources

C. Economic Perspectives on Environmental Harms and Policy Choice

1. Hardin, Tragedy of the Commons
Ø Population tends to expand geometrically 2 à4 à 6 à8 (in rapid progression so we have an over use problem
Ø Hardin : The tendency where you have a situation with common resources, if you have no regulations, this will inevitably ruin it for everyone else.
1. Pasture Open to all: Herdsman have the utility of adding one more, Increase proceeds from 1 animal, additional overgrazing -1, so the rational herdsman continues to increase animal to increase money – Therein is the tragedy each man in locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit – in a limited wor

asing them.

3. The Classic Economics Model of Environmental Problems:

Ø Economists think markets, and analyze environmental ills by seeing how and why markets contribute to these ills and invariably influence efforts to find solutions
Ø Economic concepts actually both explain the pervasiveness of environmental harms and point toward legally based solutions
1. Externalities – pollution in a negative externality, “as a human made, un bargained for, negative element of the environment. Called such because it imposes costs on people who are external to the transaction between the producer and consumer of the polluting product.
2. If environmental goods such as air or water can be used without any cost to the user, economists predict that too much pollution or excessive use will follow.
3. Positive Externalities – a good enjoyed by many but the creator is unpaid
4. Difficulties – to determine what costs what is very difficult
a. Who or how badly someone will be harmed
b. Appropriate price for environmental harms ?
c. Transaction Costs – meetings, negotiations could be $$
d. Free Rider Problem – no one wants to pay to confront abuser
e. Two questions remain –
i. How effectively can economic prescriptions be applied?
1. Gathering Info necessary to would be very $$
How relevant and helpful is economic analysis compared with other theories and approaches?