Environmental Law

Caleb A. Jaffe *
Sean M. Carney **

 

This past spring marked the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day, first held on April 22, 1970.  As the Washington Post reported, the milestone was “cause for celebration—and a mid-life crisis.” The reason for celebration was self-apparent: modern environmental regulation, from 1970 to today, gave us healthier air and cleaner water, and preserved cherished wild places. In addition, thanks to the “technology-forcing” design of many major environmental statutes, environmental regulation fueled greater economic prosperity by spurring industrial innovation. As the economists Michael Porter and Claas van der Linde famously articulated, “Firms can actually benefit from properly crafted environmental regulations that are more stringent (or are imposed earlier) than those faced by their competitors in other countries. By stimulating innovation, strict environmental regulations can actually enhance competitiveness.”

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*Senior Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center and Lecturer, University of Virginia School of Law.
**J.D. Candidate, May 2011, George Mason University School of Law.