David W. Case


Congress constructed the entirety of the modern federal environmental regulatory system between 1970 and 1990. However, due to ever increasing political polarization and gridlock, Congress has abdicated its responsibility as the primary national environmental policymaker over the past 25 years. Since 1990, no major environmental legislation has been enacted, leading to a growing sense that the federal system has become stagnated and obsolescent. Since the mid-1990s, concerns over the effectiveness, inefficiencies, and under-inclusiveness of the federal system have led to a robust reform movement seeking to build the "next generation" of environmental regulation. Because of Congress's inability to enact environmental legislation, however, such reform efforts have largely centered on numerous, primarily voluntary executive branch "reinvention" initiatives at EPA. Congress's failure to support these efforts, through legislation or otherwise, has severely undermined the ability of these efforts to achieve meaningful success, leading to a "lost generation" of environmental regulatory reform. This Article surveys the most widely promoted and analyzed of the "next generation" environmental regulatory reform proposals and calls on Congress to accept reform advocates' challenge to improve and modernize a severely outdated regulatory system.

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