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Volume [field_article_intvolume_value], Issue [field_article_intissue_value] — July 1998


Reinventing Environmental Regulation: Back to the Past by Way of the Future

by Rena I. Steinzor

Editors' Summary: Considerable debate over the efficacy of modern environmental regulation has resulted in recent reports by Enterprise for the Environment, Yale University, and the National Academy of Public Administration aimed at reinventing EPA and environmental regulation. This Dialogue discusses the three reports and considers whether they will fulfill their stated goals. It examines whether the reports' conclusions are relevant, whether their initiatives are practical, and whether their suggestions are wise. It notes that implementing the performance-based system the three reports recommend has the potential to effect profound changes, but it concludes that without expanding regulatory resources and challenging sources to track emissions and research their toxicological effects, severe environmental degradation is likely to occur. In addition, it finds that the market-based incentives the reports encourage are unacceptably weak in comparison to the liability that serves as a deterrent under the existing command-and-control system. To support these conclusions, the author examines the relevance, wisdom, and practicality of the reports' conclusions in light of three of the most difficult problems now facing federal and state governments: revision of NAAQS for particulate matter and ozone, control of Pfiesteria piscicida, and reauthorization of the Superfund program.

Taking Environmental Justice Claims Seriously

by Jeffrey B. Gracer

Editors' Summary: Environmental justice issues have been the focus of much attention in recent months. In a case of first impression, the Third Circuit held last December that community groups can bring civil rights actions in federal court to collaterally attack state environmental permit decisions. Thispast February, EPA issued an interim guidance document on environmental justice which, among other things, would allow community groups to challenge state permit decisions after they are made — including permit renewals and modifications. This Dialogue focuses on these twin developments that raise important strategic issues for developers and companies seeking governmental approvals for projects located in geographic areas with significant minority or low-income populations.