NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Time for a Fresh Start on Environmental Policy

December 1, 2010

After years of failed top-down approaches, it is time for a fresh start for environmental policy in Washington state, says Todd Myers, the environmental director with Washington Policy Center.

  • First, policies need to follow science and sound economics to ensure the state spends resources wisely.
  • Second, residents need to hold the state accountable for results.
  • Third, Washington needs to replace its heavily bureaucratic approach with one that is more innovative and nimble.

For example, when asked to explain the "Low Carbon Fuel Standard" that would dictate what fuels residents can buy, a Department of Ecology official could only tell the legislature, "It's complicated."  Murky and incomprehensible approaches lead Washington down false paths and restrict the creativity necessary to find innovative solutions.

While state "experts" claim to understand how these complex regulations will work, the real-world result shows the opposite.  Research reveals that growth management laws have actually encouraged some sprawl, increasing the environmental impacts they are supposed to limit.  The state needs to do a complete assessment of these laws to determine where they are going wrong in order to place Washington on a better path, says Myers.

Opaque, obscure and political rules need to be replaced with simple prices on pollution.  The free market allows us the freedom to choose our lifestyle.  With that freedom comes the responsibility to pay for impacts, if they occur.  Simple and transparent prices on pollution are more effective, and far cheaper, than creating entrenched bureaucracies imposing rules only they understand.

Source: Todd Myers, "Time for a Fresh Start on Environmental Policy," Washington Policy Center, November 2010.

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