Free Market Environmentalism

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Free Market Environmentalism
Author Terry L. Anderson and Donald R. Leal

Free Market Environmentalism is a book by Terry L. Anderson and Donald R. Leal that was of great importance to the free market environmentalist movement.

It was intended as an ideological tract and call to action, rather than as an empirical study. The book was lauded for its readability and its reference list was described as "one of the most comprehensive offerings currently available in this area."[1] It was praised for presenting the possibility of replacing zero-sum contests between industry and conservationists with markets that would allow for mutually acceptable arrangements. However, it was also criticized as having a narrow assessment of environmental values and various policy options, and not weighing historical facts carefully.[2] It was also criticized for not presenting a very persuasive argument for tradeable permits, inasmuch as only one significant example of their application to water quality, and that a not very successful one, was cited. Likewise, the book was criticized for not explaining how liability rules would work when pollutants are pervasive and synergistic.[3]

The book provides a refreshing alternative to protecting the environment and natural resources that does not include more bureaucracy. The intuition is that free markets have been making the environment cleaner for centuries. Cars were becoming more eco-friendly long before the government passed any legislation like the Clean Air Act, and they would continue to get better without more regulation. Anderson provides case study after case study where juries recognize that a company is harming a private individual and grants reparations to the harmed party. The argument for property rights over regulation is a compelling one, because while the former is resolved through a direct transfer of payments from the polluter to the harmed, the latter is typically just a tax blanket tax on carbon emissions that winds up in the federal coffers.[4]


  1. ^ Glenn Fox (May 1992), Review of Free Market Environmentalism by Terry L. Anderson; Donald R. Leal, 74 (2), American Journal of Agricultural Economics, pp. 500–501, JSTOR 1242506 
  2. ^ John A. Douglass (Oct 1993), Review of Free Market Environmentalism by Terry L. Anderson; Donald R. Leal, 37 (4), Forest & Conservation History, pp. 192–193, JSTOR 3983565 
  3. ^ David Pearce (Jul 1992). "Review of Environment and Economy: Property Rights and Public Policy by Daniel W. Bromley and Free Market Environmentalism by Terry L. Anderson; Donald R. Leal". The Economic Journal. Blackwell Publishing for the Royal Economic Society. 102 (413): 985–987. doi:10.2307/2234605. JSTOR 2234605. 
  4. ^ Steven Rathgeb Smith (Spring 1992). "Review of Urban Alternatives: Public and Private Markets in the Provision of Local Services by Robert M. Stein and Free Market Environmentalism by Terry L. Anderson; Donald R. Leal". Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. John Wiley & Sons on behalf of Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. 11 (2): 338–341. doi:10.2307/3325379. JSTOR 3325379.