IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Environmental Policy Since Earth Day I: What Have We Gained?


  • A. Myrick Freeman III


I review the data on costs and benefits of the major environmental laws passed during the 1970s. The winners in terms of benefit-cost analysis include: getting lead out of gasoline; controlling particulate air pollution; reducing the concentration of lead in drinking water; and the cleanup of hazardous waste sites with the lowest cost per cancer case avoided under Superfund The losers include: mobile source air pollution control; water pollution control; and many of the regulations and cleanup decisions taken under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and Superfund.

Suggested Citation

  • A. Myrick Freeman III, 2002. "Environmental Policy Since Earth Day I: What Have We Gained?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 125-146, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:16:y:2002:i:1:p:125-146 Note: DOI: 10.1257/0895330027148

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James T. Hamilton & W. Kip Viscusi, 1999. "Calculating Risks?: The Spatial and Political Dimensions of Hazardous Waste Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262082780, July.
    2. Winston Harrington & Richard D. Morgenstern & Peter Nelson, 2000. "On the accuracy of regulatory cost estimates," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(2), pages 297-322.
    3. Van Houtven, George & Cropper, Maureen L., 1996. "When is a Life Too Costly to Save? The Evidence from U.S. Environmental Regulations," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 348-368, May.
    4. Viscusi, W Kip, 1993. "The Value of Risks to Life and Health," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1912-1946, December.
    5. Karen Palmer & Wallace E. Oates & Paul R. Portney, 1995. "Tightening Environmental Standards: The Benefit-Cost or the No-Cost Paradigm?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 119-132, Fall.
    6. Peter A. Diamond & Jerry A. Hausman, 1994. "Contingent Valuation: Is Some Number Better than No Number?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 45-64, Fall.
    7. Morgenstern, Richard & Harrington, Winston & Nelson, Per-Kristian, 1999. "On the Accuracy of Regulatory Cost Estimates," Discussion Papers dp-99-18, Resources For the Future.
    8. Paul R. Portney, 1994. "The Contingent Valuation Debate: Why Economists Should Care," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 3-17, Fall.
    9. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
    10. Stavins, Robert, 1998. "Market-Based Environmental Policies," Discussion Papers dp-98-26, Resources For the Future.
    11. Van Houtven, George L. & Cropper, Maureen L. & DEC, 1994. "When is a life too costly to save? : evidence from U.S. environmental regulations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1260, The World Bank.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Wayne B. Gray, 2015. "Environmental regulations and business decisions," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 187-187, September.
    2. Arthur J. Caplan & Yuya Sasaki, 2009. "Sharing the Surplus Generated from Noncooperative Cost Sharing: The Case of Nonpoint Associations and Water Quality Trading," Working Papers 2009-09, Utah State University, Department of Economics.
    3. Chakraborti, Lopamudra, 2016. "Do plants’ emissions respond to ambient environmental quality? Evidence from the clean water act," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 55-69.
    4. Fullerton, Don & Metcalf, Gilbert E., 2002. "Cap and trade policies in the presence of monopoly and distortionary taxation," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 327-347, November.
    5. Caplan, Arthur J. & Gilbert, John & Chatterjee, Devalina, 2013. "Using Field-level Characteristics as Proxy Measures to Test for the Presence of Economies of Scale in Nonpoint Pollution Control," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(02), pages 365-386, August.
    6. Nicholas Z. Muller & Robert Mendelsohn & William Nordhaus, 2011. "Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1649-1675, August.
    7. Caplan, Arthur J. & Sasaki, Yuya, 2014. "Benchmarking an optimal pattern of pollution trading: The case of Cub River, Utah," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 502-510.
    8. Graves Philip E, 2009. "A Note on the Valuation of Collective Goods: Overlooked Input Market Free Riding for Non-Individually Incrementable Goods," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-20, February.
    9. Arthur J. Caplan & Yuya Sasaki, 2009. "Matching Traders in a Pollution Market: The Case of Cub River, Utah," Working Papers 2009-08, Utah State University, Department of Economics.
    10. John Loomis & Bryon Allen, 2008. "Using Non Market Valuation to Inform the Choice Between Permits and Fees in Environmental Regulation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 40(3), pages 329-337, July.
    11. Muller, Nicholas Z. & Mendelsohn, Robert, 2007. "Measuring the damages of air pollution in the United States," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-14, July.
    12. Thomas P. Lyon & John W. Maxwell, 2014. "Self-Regulation and Regulatory Flexibility: Why Firms May be Reluctant to Signal Green," Working Papers 2014-11, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    13. Lopamudra Chakraborti & Kenneth E. McConnell, 2012. "Does Ambient Water Quality Affect the Stringency of Regulations? Plant-Level Evidence of the Clean Water Act," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 88(3), pages 518-535.
    14. Dominique Bureau, 2005. "Lévaluation des réglementations : transports et environnement," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 167(1), pages 49-65.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:16:y:2002:i:1:p:125-146. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.