"Privatizing" public resources by creating stronger property rights is an increasingly popular environmental policy option. While advocates of these "market-based' approaches tend to f5ocus on their efficiency and ecological implications, the policies also raise important considerations of equity and distributive justice. Private Rights in Public Resources confronts these ethical implications by showing that, despite their limited attention as subjects of academic study, equity ideas have long had an influence in environmental policy. It argues that equity issues should be considered more explicitly in both the analysis and formulation of environmental policy.
Leigh Raymond investigates equity norms through original studies of two important environmental laws, the Acid Rain Title of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) and the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act (TGA). He reviews legislative records, administrative documents, and interviews key policymakers. Confirming that much of the debate in the two programs centered on the equity or fairness of the initial allocation of property rights, he then uses the theories of John Locke, Morris Cohen and others to build a framework for identifying the competing norms of equity in play.
Raymond's study reveals that, despite the different historical and ecological settings, the political actors in the two cases struggled to reconcile similar arguments--and were able to achieve a similar synthesis of conflicting ownership ideas. He notes that the prominence of equity arguments in the debates and decisions about allocations contradict traditional views that the TGA and the CAAA simply "grandfathered" rights to existing users.
Raymond extends his analysis to ongoing national and international debates about allocations of greenhouse gas emissions. He demonstrates how ideas about equity and fairness operate in the context of global climate change, where there is less structure in the political, legal, and scientific context of the policy debate....Continua