The political terrain on which the environmental debate is conducted today is defined almost entirely by the central premises of the environmental left. The green lobby maintains that ecological resources are by definition public property, or commons, that must be centrally planned and stewarded by bureaucratic agents lest they be recklessly despoiled by industry. But the biggest and worst polluter in America is the federal government, which subsidizes a host of activities that arguably cause more environmental damage than all the actors in the ‘‘unfettered’’ free market.

It makes no sense for the federal government to subsidize environmental destruction on one hand while establishing laws, regulations, and vast bureaucracies to mitigate it on the other. Reconsidering those subsidies would help not only the environment but the economy as well.