Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment

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The Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), based in Bozeman, Montana, is an American think-tank that promotes free-market environmentalism. FREE emphasizes reliance on market mechanisms and private property rights, rather than on environmental regulation, for protection of the environment. Its chairperson, John Baden, stresses decentralization: a shift of control from what he calls "Green platonic despots" in the federal government to "local interests".[1] Citing conservation efforts such as those involving the Rocky Mountain Elk, Pheasants Forever, and Trout Unlimited, Baden asserts that the ideas FREE promotes have become "the norm among progressive, intellectually honest and successful environmentalists".[2]

FREE's mission is to attract and work with conservationists, conservatives and classical liberals who treasure responsible liberty, sustainable ecology and modest prosperity. FREE led the creation of the New Resource Economics. People using this approach focus on scientific information and incentives to act responsibly on that information. Doing so fosters the confluence of liberty, ecology, and prosperity.

One of FREE's past projects was the "Charter Forest" project,[3] in which control of national forests were to be devolved to local trusts. The plan was endorsed by the Bush administration[citation needed], but has yet to be put into effect.[4]

Since 1992, FREE has offered expense-paid seminars in its philosophy to federal judges.[5] These seminars have included such topics as "Environmental Protection: The Role of Community-Based Solutions to Environmental Problems", "The Environment: A CEO's Perspective",[6] and "Liberty and the Environment: A Case for Judicial Activism". In the late 1990s, FREE says that nearly a third of the federal judiciary had either attended or were seeking to attend its seminars. The group also offers expense-paid courses for university faculty and students, these reportedly taught on the campus of Montana State University.

Between August 14 and 19, 2004, FREE hosted the 2004 general meeting of the Mont Pèlerin Society at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.



  1. ^ More environmental Gore, John Baden, April 26, 1999
  2. ^ What was once radical now becoming mainstream, John Baden, May 9, 2001, originally published in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
  3. ^ Charter Forest
  4. ^
  5. ^ A Conference Series for Federal Judges, State Supreme Court Justices, & Law Professors, FREE's website.
  6. ^ The Environment: A CEO's perspective, FREE website, 1996

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