NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Will Creating A New Bureaucracy Make Environmental Bureaucracies More Efficient?

June 30, 1998

Some students of government have long noted the phenomenon of policymakers passing new laws to correct the ill effects of previous, poorly thought-out legislation. This recently happened in the case of environmental litigation.

  • Because the ever-growing number of lawsuits occasioned by environmental laws is beginning to burden courts, Congress last year created the taxpayer-financed "Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution."
  • About 1,000 environmental cases are filed every year in federal district courts.
  • Based in Tucson, Ariz., the institute will start off with a staff of 14 and $4.25 million in federal support -- as well as $1.25 million a year through 2002.
  • The Cato Institute estimates that environmental regulations have cost consumers $1.5 trillion over the past 25 years

The average American household forks over about $1,800 a year for environmental protection -- for a total of about $200 billion a year. For example, the Superfund program -- which is supposed to clean up toxic waste sites -- has already cost more than $15 billion, 88 percent of which has gone to transaction costs such as attorneys' and consultants' fees.

Meanwhile, as of October 1997, the Environmental Protection Agency anticipated enacting 430 new rules by this coming October -- 36 of which will cost $100 million each year for each rule. The total annual cost for all the new EPA rules will be at least $3.6 billion.

Source: Editorial, "Another Green Bureaucracy," Investor's Business Daily, June 30, 1998.


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