Last fall, I participated in a conference at Duke Law School on “Conservative Visions of Our Environmental Future,” sponsored by the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Nicholas School for the Environment, Duke Federalist Society, Duke College Republicans and the Energy & Enterprise Initiative. I blogged the event, summarizing the various talks as they occurred, save for my own. (It’s a bit hard to talk and type at the same time.)
A brief paper, summarizing my remarks, is now on SSRN. Here’s the abstract:
The existing environmental regulatory architecture, largely erected in the 1970s, is outdated and ill-suited to address contemporary environmental concerns.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.
This paper will be published along with other papers from the conference in a symposium issue of the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum due out later this year.
UPDATE: My Washington Post “WonkBlog” interview about this paper is available here.