Since they first appeared on the scene more than 20 years ago, market-based approaches, such as the emission trading system to control acid rain, have become the tools of choice when trying to solve difficult environmental problems. They are widely viewed as more efficient than prescriptive regulations, yet there has been little comparative study.

A new book, edited by Professor Jody Freeman LL.M. ’91 S.J.D. ’95 and Charles D. Kolstad, professor of environmental economics and policy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, aims to fill that gap.

Moving to Markets in Environmental Regulation: Lessons from Twenty Years of Experience” (Oxford University Press) brings empirical evidence and theoretical analysis from leading economists and legal scholars to the debate. Some of the articles support the argument that market instruments can be both more efficient and more effective than “command and control” regulation. But others find that at least some of the criticisms of prescriptive approaches are overstated. Overall, the collection rethinks the dichotomy between the two approaches to solving environmental problems and highlights ways in which they can work together.

“We’re at a stage of environmental regulation where we now draw on a broad range of tools,” said Freeman in the Harvard Law Bulletin. “Whether we are talking about global warming, air pollution, water pollution, habitat protection or ocean regulation, it’s not a question of ‘either/or’ but of how to use market strategies and prescriptive regulations for maximum environmental benefit at minimum cost.”