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Free Market Environmentalism


Free market environmentalism:Free market environmentalism connects self-interest to protecting resources by establishing private property rights of environmental resources. Property rights compel owners to account for the costs and benefits of their actions and facilitate market transactions that create efficiency-enhancing gains from trade. Property rights and markets can provide the right incentives, without relying on altruism or good intentions.

Free market environmentalism comes down to who holds environmental property rights. That could range from private individuals, to the government, to no one. If the answer is that no one owns them, environmental tragedy will result. However, when property rights are well defined and enforced, markets get the incentives right for improving environmental quality.

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The Tragedy of the Commons: The tragedy of the commons is a problem where individuals have the incentive to consume more of a common good than is sustainable over the long-term. It often occurs when there is a lack of well-defined property rights, leading to little cost of over consuming at an individual level. 

Eliminating the tragedy of the commons requires limiting and clarifying who gets to use and derive value from scarce natural resources. It’s helpful to think about where tragedy of the commons does not occur: Namely in private markets where every property right is clearly articulated and owned. Free market environmentalism is an effort to eliminate the tragedy of the commons by making sure all costs are accounted for by establishing clear property rights.

Endangered Species Act: The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973 and provides a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found. 

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Clean Water Act:The Clean Water Act is a United States federal law and its primary objective is to restore and maintain the integrity of the nation’s waters. 

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Clean Air Act:Similar to the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act is a United States federal law designed to control air pollution on a national level, as well as protect human health and the environment from the effects of air pollution. 

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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):Founded in 1970, EPA is an independent of the United States federal government. Its mission is to protect human health and the environment. 

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