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Environmental debate

This photo shows a protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline for tar sands at the White House in 2011.
Across the country, countless people have protested, even risking arrest, against the Keystone XL Pipeline. (Credit: modification of image by “NoKXL”/Flickr Creative Commons)

Keystone xl

You might have heard about Keystone XL in the news. It is a pipeline system designed to bring oil from Canada to the refineries near the Gulf of Mexico, as well as to boost crude oil production in the United States. While a private company, TransCanada, will own the pipeline, U.S. government approval is required because of its size and location. The pipeline is being built in four phases, with the first two currently in operation, bringing oil from Alberta, Canada, east across Canada, south through the United States into Nebraska and Oklahoma, and northeast again to Illinois. The third and fourth phases of the project, known as Keystone XL, would create a pipeline southeast from Alberta straight to Nebraska, and then from Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico.

Sounds like a great idea, right? A pipeline that would move much needed crude oil to the Gulf refineries would increase oil production for manufacturing needs, reduce price pressure at the gas pump, and increase overall economic growth. Supporters argue that the pipeline is one of the safest pipelines built yet, and would reduce America’s dependence on politically vulnerable Middle Eastern oil imports.

Not so fast, say its critics. The Keystone XL would be constructed over an enormous aquifer (one of the largest in the world) in the Midwest, and through an environmentally fragile area in Nebraska, causing great concern among environmentalists about possible destruction to the natural surroundings. They argue that leaks could taint valuable water sources and construction of the pipeline could disrupt and even harm indigenous species. Environmentalist groups have fought government approval of the proposed construction of the pipeline, and as of press time the pipeline projects remain stalled.

Of course, environmental concerns matter when discussing issues related to economic growth. But how much should they factor in? In the case of the pipeline, how do we know how much damage it would cause when we do not know how to put a value on the environment? Would the benefits of the pipeline outweigh the opportunity cost? The issue of how to balance economic progress with unintended effects on our planet is the subject of this chapter.

Introduction to environmental protection and negative externalities

In this chapter, you will learn about:

  • The Economics of Pollution
  • Command-and-Control Regulation
  • Market-Oriented Environmental Tools
  • The Benefits and Costs of U.S. Environmental Laws
  • International Environmental Issues
  • The Tradeoff between Economic Output and Environmental Protection

In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio was so polluted that it spontaneously burst into flame. Air pollution was so bad at that time that Chattanooga, Tennessee was a city where, as an article from Sports Illustrated put it: “the death rate from tuberculosis was double that of the rest of Tennessee and triple that of the rest of the United States, a city in which the filth in the air was so bad it melted nylon stockings off women’s legs, in which executives kept supplies of clean white shirts in their offices so they could change when a shirt became too gray to be presentable, in which headlights were turned on at high noon because the sun was eclipsed by the gunk in the sky.”

The problem of pollution arises for every economy in the world, whether high-income or low-income, and whether market-oriented or command-oriented. Every country needs to strike some balance between production and environmental quality. This chapter begins by discussing how firms may fail to take certain social costs, like pollution, into their planning if they do not need to pay these costs. Traditionally, policies for environmental protection have focused on governmental limits on how much of each pollutant could be emitted. While this approach has had some success, economists have suggested a range of more flexible, market-oriented policies that reduce pollution at a lower cost. We will consider both approaches, but first let’s see how economists frame and analyze these issues.

Questions & Answers

Pass questions and answers
Appiah Reply
the relationship between two concept supply and Demand
Lebogang Reply
what is globalization
Nuertey Reply
what is the best definition of economic?
Humble Reply
what is aggregat demand in open economy
Dagim Reply
Aggregate demand is expressed as the total amount of money exchanged for those goods and services at a specific price level and point in time.
Bayou
What is the full meaning of GDP
Akinbulejo Reply
gross domestic product
Yanish
Gross Domestic Product
bode
Formula for calculating the percentage of change in price, quantity, price elasticity of demand
Augustina Reply
Given that the elasticity of supply for a good is 2 and the percentage change in price is 45%.What is the percentage change in quantity supplied
Mbe Reply
Please don't understand
Augustina
Explain
Adebisi
ok
Owoeye
percentage change should be 44%
Owoeye
state and explainfour function of a costumer service
Egba Reply
the circular flow model of the economy is a simplification showing how the economy works and the relationship between income,production and spending in the economy as a whole
Anna Reply
It is an idea that show us the way the economy works about their income, production, and spending in the economy
Augustina
what is circular flow
Ntokozo Reply
what is economics?
Dorcas Reply
Economics is defined as the science that study human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.
Emmanuella
economics is a social science concerned with the production,distribution, and consumption of goods and services
Michael
Economics as a science studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means with alternative use.
Augustina
economics can be defined as social science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scare means which have alternative uses.... Lionel C Robins
Owoeye
in 2021 Amazon reduced the annual subscription fee for its prime membership service which provides free two_day shipping on many goods and other benefits, from $119 to $99. Zoppa consulting, an investment firm estimated that before the price reduction, prime had 62million subscribers globally. If so, what is the arc elasticity of demand for a prime membership.
Joan Reply
Differences between microeconomics and macroeconomics
tatiana Reply
Macroeconomics deal with the economy as a whole.that is an economy affect the firm ,government and the households eg.unemployment, whilst Microeconomics deal with the the decision making of households,firm and government separately.
Amah
Microeconomics is the branch of economic which studies the behaviour of individual households, firms and industries whiles macroeconomic studies the economy as a whole. It looks at the economy from a a broader perspective.
Augustina
what is Economics
Ebem Reply
the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth and has Influence by sociology!!!!
Ajay
Economics is the study of how humans make decisions when they want to fulfil their requirements and desires for goods, services and resources.
Abdullah
Economics is the study how humans make decisions in the faces of scarcity.
Rose
economic is the study of how human make decision in the fact of scarcity.
Toang
Economics is a social science which study human behavior as a relationship between earn and scarce mean which have alternative uses
Juliet
what is market structure
Fatima
market structure in economics depicts how firms are differentiated and categorised based on types of goods they sell and how their operations are affected by external factors and elements.
Nasir
what is economic theory
Madara

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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