In the past thirty years, Congress has enacted and revised numerous statutes involving environmental protection. Federal public policy toward environmental pollution has evolved during this time to respond to changing societal needs and new information about the impacts of federal regulation. This Essay will discuss the two broad categories into which regulatory goals of agencies fall: acceptable risk goals and pollution reduction goals. Each of these broad categories, in turn, contains subcategories. Environmental legislation often contains a mix of these goals, and only by examining the complex interaction among them, can the statutory language that specifies the implementation details correctly be understood. Current suggestions for reform would implement a single, simplistic cost-benefit analysis. The present, complex regulatory system allows regulations to meet varying goals, and Congress should be wary of attempts to impose perfection through unidimensional approaches to setting environmental policy.
Thomas O. McGarity,
The Goals of Environmental Legislation,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.