The rest, as they say, is history. On April 22, 1970 – 38 years ago today – it is estimated that 20 million people rallied in the name of a cleaner environment. Many believe that single event led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and improvements to clean air and water regulations.
Today, the environmental issues facing our nation are no less challenging, coping with climate change and developing cleaner, alternative forms of energy chief among them.
The environmental challenges we face are complex, and will require difficult choices, but that should not deter us from tackling these challenges. Just as we need candidates unafraid to address the looking crisis of government spending, we need candidates who will address the need to lower carbon dioxide emissions, improve air quality, and diversify our energy sources.
Just as we need government to ensure the rule of law in order to have a truly free economy, our government needs to be responsible for managing our public lands, our public waters, and our common atmosphere. However, acknowledging the power of property rights is the most effective way of protecting these common resources.
For too long, we have ceded this debate to those who always favor larger government and more command and control. I favor market solutions because they work. True markets don't subsidize favored industries, or underwrite destructive policies like the ethanol mandate. Real markets account for the costs of pollution, and provide incentives to reduce it. A real cap and trade plan auctions emissions rights openly, rather than handed out the privilege to friends of the regulating bureaucrats. And that will lead to less sulfur, less nitrogen, less mercury, and even less carbon going into our atmosphere every year.
Market forces can lead to a cleaner environment than state controls. We aren't there yet, but we're certainly further along than countries that rely completely on the power of government to protect their environment.
Happy Earth Day