The thirtieth anniversary of the conception of Earth Day will arrive in 1999, and EPA will soon be marking the end of its first three decades of activity. Three things are clear at the end of this first generation of environmental policy. First, we’ve made enormous progress: the environment is measurably cleaner than it was a decade ago.
Second, despite the progress, current environmental policy has legions of detractors. Almost everyone agrees that the regulatory process has become too costly and that there is a new generation of problems that the current approach cannot effectively solve. Third, despite the problems, there is no support for simply packing up and declaring victory. Some new approach to the nation’s environmental policy has to be found. The question is what the next generation of environmental policy will look like.