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Issue

Volume [field_article_intvolume_value], Issue [field_article_intissue_value] — July 1999

Comment(s)

Reuse, Restore, Recycle: Historic Preservation as an Alternative to Sprawl

by Rachel L. Schowalter

Editors' Summary: Our country's landscape has changed dramatically over the last 50 years as a result of numerous governmental policies and subsidies that encourage low-density development commonly referred to as "sprawl." Sprawl results in environmental problems ranging from air pollution to wetland degradation. Our countryside is disappearing and becoming more fragmented, while urban areas are simply neglected. Moreover, this type of growth, which has gone unchecked for the latter half of this century, increases traffic congestion, strains public budgets, and deteriorates our quality of life. In response, efforts to change sprawling forms of development are taking place nationwide. Advocates of change argue for holistic, long-term approaches that guide future growth in a more sustainable way. This Comment addresses historic preservation's role in curtailing sprawling development, because the most effective method for preventing sprawl is through more intensive use of existing buildings and sites. The Comment begins by discussing the various factors that contribute to sprawl and their consequences. It then addresses how historic preservation can be used to combat this problem. It concludes with a general survey of the various tools that are being used to promote historic preservation activities.

Dialogue

Chilling Collaboration: The Federal Advisory Committee Act and Stakeholder Involvement in Environmental Decisionmaking

by Thomas C. Beierle and Rebecca J. Long

Editors' Summary: The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) was designed to control the undue influence of special interests on advisory committees by balancing committee membership, opening committee meetings and minutes to the public, and controlling the number of committees formed. In this Dialogue, the authors evaluate whether FACA has achieved its objective. They begin with a description of advisory committees and the applicability of FACA. Next, they discuss three chilling effects that FACA has had on stakeholder involvement, including procedural barriers, administrative barriers, and "FACA-phobia." The authors then examine FACA's effects on site-specific advisory committees at DOE, the DOD, EPA, and the U.S. Forest Service. Ultimately, the authors conclude that FACA has been successful in doing what it set out to do, but it has failed to change with an evolving environmental regulatory system that includes a greater role for stakeholder collaboration. At the end of the Dialogue, the authors recommend three ways to improve FACA by expanding opportunities for stakeholder involvement: lift the administrative ceiling on advisory committees, clarify applicable regulations and possibly the Act itself, and streamline procedural requirements for forming and operating an advisory committee.

National Incentives to Protect Natural Resources: Preserving Their Place in International Trade

by Paul Stanton Kibel

Editors' Summary: In environmental economics, the concept of negative externalities refers to the costs of adverse environmental effects that result from resource extracting and industrial activities and that are borne by the public, rather than the responsible entity. While this concept is widely accepted, serious debate exists as to whether environmental regulation for internalizing environmental externalities is market correcting or market distorting. This debate is rooted in disagreement and uncertainty as to what constitutes an environmental externality and in the difficulty of assigning a specific monetary value to environmental externalities. Many environmentalists seek to correct the market failure associated with negative externalities by forcing the entity producing the product in question to internalize the costs of environmental protection. Free market advocates, however, often counter this strategy by citing the comparative advantage theory, which holds that government regulation that reallocates costs and benefits can reduce economic efficiency. Under a comparative advantage analysis, policies that impose environmental costs on producers often can be viewed as the causes of, not the solutions to, market distortions.

This Dialogue attempts to place the conflict between the principles of negative externalities and comparative advantage in a less theoretical context. To that end, the author examines the relationship between national incentives to protect natural resources and international trade rules that seek to restrict the use of natural resource subsidies. The author further evaluates the extent to which the international trade rules account for the problem of negative externalities, and the extent to which the rules recognize the potentially effective role that national incentive programs can play in correcting market failures. From this evaluation, the author concludes that the legitimacy of "green" subsidies under international trade rules is uncertain. The current trade rules define green subsidies too narrowly and may discourage the use of national incentive programs to improve protection of natural resources and the environment. Therefore, the author proposes changes to ensure that national incentives to protect natural resources are effectively recognized and preserved under international trade law.

Encouraging Self-Auditing Within the Pork Industry: The Nationwide Clean Water Act Enforcement Agreement for Agriculture's First Industry-Wide Environmental Auditing Program

by Richard E. Schwartz, Steven P. Quarles, and Ellen B. Steen

Editors' Summary: Late last year, EPA and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) announced that they had developed a compliance assurance program (CAP) under which U.S. pork producers can reduce their penalties for FWPCA violations that they report and correct as part of a comprehensive environmental auditing program. This Dialogue examines the CAP and the terms of the agreement that pork producers may sign to register for the CAP. The Dialogue begins by describing the context in which the CAP was developed. It then discusses the terms of the CAP agreement and analyzes some of the key issues addressed during the negotiations between EPA and the NPPC. The Dialogue concludes with an examination of how the CAP approach could benefit other industries.