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Rethinking the checks and balances of environmental law

Owning a business in California can be a lucrative and otherwise rewarding endeavor. However, it can also inspire the kinds of headaches which require multiple doses of migraine medication, a quiet room and lots of rest. One of the primary reasons why owning a business in California can be so stressful is that businesses are held to some of the strictest standards in the nation when it comes to environmental law.

As many environmental activists, lawmakers and even school children will tell you, preserving the integrity of our environment is critical to ensuring that our future remains not only bright but viable. As a result, it is understandable that such strict standards exist. Many California business owners even appreciate operating their companies in a state that takes such care with local environmental interests. However, it is important to note that not every environmental regulation widely serves the larger goal of environmental integrity and that many need to be revisited as a result.

It is one thing to insist upon sound environmental policy in the interests of present and future generations. However, it is quite another to enforce environmental regulations that do not serve this larger goal. California environmental policy has not only become complex, it has become colored by a number of interest groups. Among these interest groups are those that serve business and those that serve the environment. Just as it is important to avoid enacting regulations that serve business while unduly harming the environment, it is important to avoid enforcing regulations that seem to serve the environment at first glance, but actually do the environment and business more harm than good.

Source: Moyers and Company, “A New Approach to Environmental Law,” Mary Christina Wood, Sep. 13, 2014

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