Environmental protection emerged as a major policy issue in the early 1960s, when public concern about the impact of human activity on our natural resources and their consequent impacts on human health became an important political issue. The result was the enactment of numerous laws designed to protect the environment through government regulation. Although there is broad public support for protecting the environment, there is increasing debate over whether government regulation is the best means of achieving environmental protection. Critics of environmental regulation point to its high costs and inconsistent results and also to its abundant weaknesses. Contemporary environmental regulation's greatest failing, according to many of its critics, is that its effects are equivalent to those of central economic planning. These critics argue that ...

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