Cooperation or Conflict: Two Approaches to Conservation

from the book Regulation and Economic Opportunity: Blueprints for Reform

Executive Summary

Environmental law is often viewed as a choice between  environmental protection through strict regulation or a free-for-all that allows for environmental degradation. In this chapter, environmental policy scholars Jordan Lofthouse and Megan Jenkins challenge the black-and-white distinction and offer an alternative view of environmental regulation based on cooperation. Throughout the chapter, they use Utah’s experience with a threatened prairie dog to show that considerations for protecting the environment can be cooperative. Their major conclusions are that:

  • Environmental policy should align an individual property owner’s incentives with environmental protection. This should involve incentive-based rules that reward conservation rather than punitive approaches that punish landowners.
  • Many environmental rules are frustrated because they lack local knowledge about customs and places. Regulators should consider empowering on-the-ground experts to help endangered species thrive.
  • Overall, environmental policy will be more successful when state and local actors with on-the-ground knowledge are involved in crafting conservation policy.
CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.