The readings in this Section discuss issues concerning both who it is that gets to make
various environmental decisions, and whose interests are likely to be taken into
Now turn to your textbook and read the following:
#22. "Risks versus Rights: Economic Power and Economic Analysis in Environmental
Politics," by Ted Schrecker.
Commentary on the Reading
Schrecker's article focusses on some economic and political aspects of debates over
environmental regulation. Schrecker begins by noting that, from a strictly economic
point of view, environmental protection regulations are bad for business. Such
regulations, for example, limit the freedom of businesses to dispose of waste products
cheaply, and demand costly pollution-reduction technologies be installed in
manufacturing plants. Other things being equal, businesses have an interest
in resisting moves by government to impose limits on their use of the natural
environment. Schrecker's basic position is that business, in general, has, for a variety of
reasons, too much influence on the process by which environmental policy decisions
First, Schrecker discusses the political resources that businesses have at their disposal
in their attempts to limit the effect of environmental regulations on their operations. He
points to three main factors.
1. Companies subject to environmental regulation actually provide much of the
technical information that is necessary for the policy-making process. Schrecker's
implication is that in order to assure a continuing flow of information, regulators may
tend to be conciliatory toward (rather than strict with) regulated companies.
2. Corporations often have enormous financial and organizational resources.
Corporations (and industry trade associations) have the resources to make
campaign contributions to key politicians, hire lobbyists to work on their behalf in
Ottawa, and so on.
3. In some regards, the interests of regulated companies and government agencies
coincide. There are government ministries responsible for resource development,
industrial expansion and so on. The implication is that these ministries may prove to
be powerful allies in industry's attempts to limit environmental legislation (or limit the
enforcement of such legislation).