<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

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

why does it makes sense to let the sewage disposal company in your town have a monopoly?
Janice Reply
how might a monopoly affect price?
Janice
how might a monopoly affect prices?
Janice
The principle of Economic is one to be involved in any economic buying substance
Anastassiya Reply
what are the principle of economics?
oche Reply
What is (Qs)
Bigi Reply
What is (Qs) and (Qd)
Bigi
Quantity of supply and Quantity of demand
Dilshoda
Qs: Is quantity of supply and Qd: quantity of demand
Cabdikariim
give as me quantitys
ahmed
among all the definition of economics which of the definition is generally acceptable?
oche
i science that studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarcity that have alternative uses
ousman
okay......
oche
what are the principle of economics?
oche
what Make things scarce
Soudani Reply
why do we studied economic
Soudani
for the stability and growth of any reign.
Fayaz
what is macro economics.?
Fayaz
which part of economics is interesting..
Fayaz
how does economics define me
clement Reply
what are the factors that determines the demand and supply
sillah
what are the importance of Economics
Betty Reply
tell me something very important about economics..
Fayaz Reply
how may I solve arithmetic mean ,,,all example
Cee Reply
what is agriculture
Itoe Reply
simple method of understanding cost concept
Oludare Reply
what is inflation
Christiana Reply
Inflation is a general increase in price levels
Zuko
is the action of inflating something
Abdifatah
inflation is the persistent increase in general price level of goods and services in an economy over a considerable period of time .
Tetteh
inflation is the general increase of a commodity in a particular period of time.
Turay
inflation is a general increase in price levels of commodities
shehu
what are the types of inflation?
Ebrima
inflation is the period of persistent rise in the general level of the price of goods services over time
Emmanuel
we have creeping inflation, demand pull inflation ,cost push inflation, and galloping inflation .
Emmanuel
I s Nigeria in any kind of in inflation? If yes which kind?
Martins
please can someone help me with the principles of economic?
Jonathan
and u
ahmed
no discassion just question
Aliraza
what is science and art economic
Sadanu
how can a location of a firm create difference between producers
joy Reply
what is monetary policy
joy
hello
Abdifatah
is a monetary from policy that's authorized of country encharces
Abdifatah
What would you say about the the mobility of enterprise as a factor of production?
Cathryn Reply
how can I connect myself to this Ambrose platform
kanu Reply

Get the best Principles of economics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Principles of economics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask