Saving Our Environment from Washington How Congress Grabs Power, Shirks Responsibility, and Shortchanges the People David Schoenbrod

Publication date:
29 Sep 2006
Yale University Press
320 pages: 210 x 140mm
7 b-w illus. + 1 graph

A veteran environmentalist tells vivid tales of the environmental wars and arrives at a surprising conclusion.

Congress empowered the Environmental Protection Agency on the theory that only a national agency that is insulated from accountability to voters could produce the scientifically grounded pollution rules needed to save a careless public from its own filth. In this provocative book, David Schoenbrod explains how his experience as an environmental advocate brought him to this startling realization: letting EPA dictate to the nation is a mistake.

Through a series of gripping and illuminating anecdotes from his own career, the author reveals the EPA to be an agency that, under Democrats and Republicans alike, delays good rules, imposes bad ones, and is so big, muscle-bound, and remote that it does unnecessary damage to our society. EPA stays in power, he says, because it enables elected legislators to evade responsibility by hiding behind appointed bureaucrats. The best environmental rules—those that have done the most good—have come when Congress had to take responsibility or from states and localities rather than the EPA.

With the passion of an authentic environmentalist, Schoenbrod makes a sensible plea for “bottom-up” environmental protection now. The responsibility for pollution control belongs not in agencies but in legislatures, and usually not at the federal level but rather closer to home.

David Schoenbrod is trustee professor, New York Law School, and adjunct scholar, Cato Institute. During his tenure as an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, he initiated litigation to force the EPA to reduce lead in gasoline and other environmental cases of particular importance to minorities and the poor.

"Schoenbrod's overall proposal makes a great deal of sense because it forces our elected officials at all levels of government to take responsibility for the laws they pass. . . . Knowing that people like Schoenbrod will continue to push for change, I am more optimistic now than before I read this book."?Scott J. Slavick, National Law Journal

"David Schoenbrod?s vivid writing has made a difficult subject come alive. Regardless of your position on the environment?and I am not in total accord with him?his supporting arguments deserve extended discussion."?Edward I. Koch, former mayor, New York City

?An important and original contribution to the national debate on environmental policy. Schoenbrod?s rich and varied personal experience in the field powerfully brings home the policy issues he addresses.??Gary Marchant, Center for the Study of Law, Science, and Technology, Arizona State University

?Schoenbrod fills the void between extreme arguments on both sides of environmental policy debates. His book advances the cause of more reasoned discussion in the nearly empty middle.??James L. Huffman, Dean, Lewis & Clark Law School

"A terrific, albeit disturbing, read. Only someone with Schoenbrod?s unique combination of legal, political and practical expertise could write so insightfully about environmental politics."?Morris P. Fiorina, Wendt Family Professor of Political Science, Stanford University 

"Schoenbrod argues that power should flow away from environmental regulators in Washington and toward state legislators. Even where I disagree with him, his arguments are elegant and forced me to think hard. This is what good books do, of course!"?Paul Portney, President, Resources for the Future 

?Schoenbrod succeeds admirably in presenting a provocative analysis of the contemporary state of environmental law and policy. He makes a strong challenge to conventional wisdom.??Richard B. Stewart, School of Law, Center on Environment and Land Use Law, New York University and former chairman of the board, Environmental Defense Fund

"The legal and policy communities owe a debt of gratitude to . . . Schoenbrod for outlining the alternate paths for environmental governance with scholarship, experience, eloquence, and passion."?G. Tracy Mehan III, Environmental Forum

"There is considerable merit to what Schoenbrod is calling for."?Leslie Carothers, Environmental Forum

"A captivating series of anecdotes. . . . Essential reading in the environmental policy canon, Saving Our Environment reinvigorates the regulatory debate by introducing a nuanced conception of federalism to a discipline long dominated by federal agency rulemaking."?Harvard Law Review

"Schoenbrod provides an entertaining and thought-provoking analysis of some of the pitfalls of current environmental regulation."?Madelaine R. Berg, New York Law Journal

"A powerful and far-reaching indictment of the nation's efforts at environmental regulation and the protection of the environment. What makes this book so significant and separates it from many critiques of the environmental movement is that author David Schoenbrod is an insider's insider. . . . Simply put, the nation would be better served if every journalist on the environmental beat and every TV talking head were required to read this book before turning the next environmental press release into another breathless scare story about the latest environmental or public health crisis. . . . It also happens to be accessible for anyone interested in the subject."?R.J. Smith, New York Post


?A scorching brief against the EPA and Congress?s capitulation to it.??Nicholas Thompson, New York Sun

"This insider's voyage through the history of environmental protection is filled with surprise and human interest. After exposing the failures of this opaque regulatory world, Schoenbrod argues for local input and control to achieve better environmental stewardship."?Philip K. Howard

"With personal anecdote and scientific fact, Mr. Schoenbrod makes a compelling case that, by delegating lawmaking responsibility to government agencies, Congress has imposed huge costs on the economy and bad choices on the environment."?John Berlau, Wall Street Journal

"An insightful book."?Nikolaos Zahariadis, Political Science Quarterly

"Saving Our Environment is powerful especially because it is based on Schoenbrod's own experience as an environmental advocate fighting in the trenches of environmental law and policy."?Jonathan H. Adler, Independent Review

"The book is part memoir, part manifesto. And considering the potentially boring topic, Schoenbrod does an excellent job of explaining how laws such as the Clean Air Act came into being, what's happened to them in the past 35 years, and how they could me more effective."?Laura Paskus, High Country News