The Principle of Non-Regression: Environmental Laws That Can't Be Repealed

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Jim Huffman, a long-time friend of PERC, recently published an op-ed in the European edition of the WSJ entitled, “The EU's 'Non-Regression' Gambit.” In it he says,

On Sept. 29, European parliamentarians adopted a resolution calling for next June's United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro to demand that all nations adhere to the "principle of non-regression." In a nutshell, the claim is that international law forbids nations to amend or repeal laws designed to protect the environment. . . . There's no mystery why the principle of non-regression is so appealing to many environmentalists. It would exempt existing environmental regulations from review, reform and repeal, even if the costs have proven to be greater than the benefits. The mystery is why the parliament of an economically struggling continent would agree.
U.S. environmentalists also insist on policies with huge economic costs without environmental benefits as evidenced by the efforts to stop the Keystone pipeline. Must we follow Europe’s failed economic policies and its environmental nonsense, too?

Terry Anderson is the William A. Dunn Distinguished Senior Fellow and former President and Executive Director of PERC as well as the John and Jean De Nault Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He believes that market approaches can be both economically sound and environmentally sensitive. His research helped launch the...
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