Chapter 16 – Conclusion: The Best and the Worst


America’s environmental rules and programs have helped to clean up the air, water, and land, as well as to manage waste and limit exposures to unsafe chemicals. But progress has been slow and expensive. Environmental law and policy have not kept pace with scientific advances, information technology breakthroughs, and the emergence of new environmental threats. EPA also faces criticism for not using economic incentives as fully as it could to create a more flexible, effective, efficient, and innovation-oriented regulatory framework. And the existing media-by-media statutory framework prevents a more integrated, systems-oriented approach to environmental protection. The inability to address climate changes stands out as one of greatest failings of U.S. environmental law. The future challenges us to equitably develop new strategies and techniques to fulfill the promise of our first modern environmental statute, the National Environmental Policy Act, to guarantee everyone the right to a healthy environment.