Role of Government Intervention in Environmental Issues

In environmental cases, a policy framework is sometimes more effective
when there is less government intervention. As the level of government
intervention diminishes, this allows more flexibility for corporations to
achieve efficiency. Furthermore the traditional command and control approach
has proven to be costly, bureaucratic and often inefficient.
It is important to address the fact that there are numerous benefits that can
be achieved for both policy makers and industries, if a policy framework is
based on market forces. However it is important that there is a need for some
government intervention, but should be as minimal as possible.
I have chosen to examine the article from the New York Times entitled
RU.S. Seeking Options of Pollution RulesS. Although pollution is detrimental to
our environment, you have to take into account that it is almost impossible to
entirely prevent pollution. This is scientifically impossible and it would have
severely negative economic impact on the industries. So the core issue becomes
the fact no matter what, there will always be pollution, as long as these
industries exist. So we should focus on how we can minimize this and yet at the
same time have an efficient market system? Furthermore, we should also focus on
how we can accomplish this so that sustainable growth and development can take
place. So there is definitely a need for some form of government intervention
to enforce and monitor this. Reason being that there is always an element of
equality that has to be enforced, when dealing with cases such as this. For
instance, larger corporations may have an advantage over smaller corporation,
since they have stronger influence on politicians and lobbyists. So the
governmentUs role should be to ensure that all industries (regardless size
and/or power) have equal opportunities to benefit from this type of approach.
In another words, the government should simply be a RwatchdogS. Government
should monitor so that the distribution and transaction of the permits are done
in an appropriate manner.
The case of Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Corporation is a classic
example of tradable permit approach. Under this model corporations are able to
buy, sell and trade permits that legally allows emission. Many economists have
favored this approach because this also provides incentives for technical
improvement. So the aggregate effect would be that most industries would try to
maximize their profits by trying to come up with new techniques to reduce the
level of emission. This in turn would allow them to reduce the cost that they
would have to pay from polluting. Norm Miller also endorses this approach by
stating that Rperformance-based approaches are more efficient, both for industry
and for governmentS.
Allowing a company to devise and manage their own pollution control
plan is another effective (and Rde-regulativeS) approach. In the article, this
was exemplified in an Arizona based company called Intel. Individual companies
such as Intel knows what is best for the company. This means that each
individual companies know what the best equipment is and what the best
procedures are to achieve established standards. Rather than having the
government telling them what to do, the people at Intel were able to devise
their own plan. This saved them a great amount of time with out the usual
cumbersome, bureaucratic procedures. The Intel company, in this case, bought
the effluent from the cityUs waste water treatment plan. This allows
corporations to work more closely with the local communities. Usually, the
result is that both parties would benefit and even achieve a common goal.
There are, however, potential problems that may occur from this.
Although we can presume that market forces will allow everything to work itself
out, it may still promote degradation. Reason being that, under this model
there is still a notion of Ryou can pollute as long as you can pay for itS. So
if a great number of corporations are financially able to pay for their level of
emission, the aggregate effect on our environment would be devastating. Under
this model, it is also difficult to penalize the polluters. Where as under the
command and control approach, severe fine or even imprisonment can be imposed to
prevent pollution. There is also a possibility that this may lead to
individualistic attitude. In a competitive market, everybody (or every
corporation) tries to maximize their gain by acting in an individualistic manner.
Individualistic type of behavior has been known to lead to greater level of
environmental degradation.
Market based approach is definitely an economically liberal (and also
RReagan-esqueS) approach, since there is the Rhands-offS notion. But if