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Saving our Environment from Washington: How Congress Grabs Power, Shirks Responsibility, and Shortchanges the People.

About the Book

Congress empowered the Environmental Protection Agency on the theory that only a national agency that is insulated from accountability to voters could produce the scientifically grounded pollution rules needed to save a careless public from its own filth. In this provocative book, David Schoenbrod explains how his experience as an environmental advocate brought him to this startling realization: letting the EPA dictate to the nation is a mistake.

Through a series of gripping and illuminating anecdotes from his own career, the author reveals the EPA to be an agency that, under Democrats and Republicans alike, delays good rules, imposes bad ones, and is so big, musclebound, and remote that is does unnecessary damage to our society. The EPA stays in power, he says, because it enables elected legislators to evade responsibility by hiding behind appointed bureaucrats. The best environmental rules—those that have done the most good—have come when Congress had to take responsibility, or from states and localities rather than the EPA.

With the passion of an authentic environmentalist, Schoenbrod makes a sensible plea for “bottom‐​up” environmental protection now. The responsibility for pollution control belongs not in agencies but in legislatures, and usually not at the federal level but rather closer to home.

About the Author

David Schoenbrod is professor of law at New York Law School and senior fellow at the Cato Institute. During his tenure as an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, he initiated litigation to force the EPA to reduce lead in gasoline and other environmental cases of particular importance to minorities and the poor. His previous books include Democracy by Decree: What Happens When Courts Run Government (coauthored with Ross Sandler) and Power Without Responsibility: How Congress Abuses the People through Delegation, both published by Yale University Press.

What Others Have Said

“A terrific, albeit disturbing read. Only someone with Schoenbrod’s unique combination of legal, political, and practical expertise could write so insightfully about environmental politics.”
—Morris P. Fiorina, Wendt Family Professor of Political Science, Stanford University, and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

“This insider’s voyage through the history of environmental protection is filled with surprise and human interest. After exposing the failures of the opaque regulatory world, Schoenbrod argues for local input and control to achieve better environmental stewardship.”
—Philip K. Howard, author of The Death of Common Sense

“Schoenbrod succeeds admirably in presenting a provocative analysis of the contemporary state of environmental law and policy. He makes a strong challenge to conventional wisdom.”
—Richard B. Stewart, School of Law, Center on Environment and Land Use Law, New York University, and former chairman of the board, Environmental Defense Fund

“David Schoenbrod’s vivid writing has made a difficult subject come alive. Regardless of your position on the environment—and I am not in total accord with him—his supporting arguments deserve extended discussion.”
—Edward I. Koch, former mayor, New York City