by Pete Geddes
Don Boudreaux provides an excellent summary of Ronald Coase's work and its implications for the environment in today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Here's a preview:
Coase's insight shows that many disputes over competing uses of the environment can be solved privately without heavy-handed government bureaucracy. If private property rights are clearly specified, parties will then exchange these rights with each other so that those who value particular rights most highly are those who gain control over those rights.
To the extent that parties can bargain with each other for ownership of property rights, government officials need not take upon themselves the difficult responsibility of deciding just how the environment is to be used (or not used).