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.

More on Natural Resources

Cato Studies

Curse or Blessing? How Institutions Determine Success in Resource-Rich Economies

By Peter Kaznacheev. Policy Analysis No. 808. January 11, 2017.

Do Consumers Recognize the Value of Fuel Economy?

By James M. Sallee, Sarah West, and Wei Fan. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 38. November 11, 2015.

Improving Incentives for Federal Land Managers: The Case for Recreation Fees

By Randal O’Toole. Policy Analysis No. 726. June 18, 2013.


Reflections on Private Water Supply: Agency and Equity Issues

Steve H. Hanke. Journal of Applied Corporate Finance. Vol. 23. No. 3. Summer 2011.

Privatizing Waterworks: Learning from the French Experience

Steve H. Hanke. Journal of Applied Corporate Finance. Vol. 23. No. 3. Summer 2011.

Privatizing Waterworks

Steve H. Hanke. JHU Global Water Magazine. January 16, 2011.

Public Filings

Yates v. United States

By Bradley J. Bondi, Joseph J. Bial, Lex Urban, Christopher Jones, Ilya Shapiro, & Trevor Burrus. Legal Briefs. July 7, 2014.

Office of Management and Budget’s Request for Comments on the Technical Support Document Entitled Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866

By Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger. Public Comments. January 27, 2014.

Hornbeck Offshore Services v. Jewell

By Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burrus. Legal Briefs. August 12, 2013.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Interior Department and Public Lands

Cato Handbook for Policymakers. Cato Handbook for Policymakers, 8th Edition (2017).

The Myth of the Magic Bullet

Policy Report. January/February 2016.

Stunted Harvest

John J. Cohrssen and Henry I. Miller. Regulation. Winter 2015-2016.


America’s Need for Critical Minerals versus Federal Land Management

Featuring Ned Mamula and Patrick J. Michaels. May 2, 2016. Policy Forum.

To Mine or Not to Mine? The Future of U.S. Mineral Resources

Featuring Ned Mamula, Patrick J. Michaels, and Peter Russo. March 24, 2016. Capitol Hill Briefing.

Threats to the U.S. Energy Renaissance

Featuring Patrick J. Michaels. May 15, 2015. Policy Forum.

Downsizing the Federal Government

The Forest Service

By Randal O'Toole. July 2016.

Cutting the Bureau of Reclamation and Reforming Water Markets

By Chris Edwards and Peter J. Hill. February 2012.

Reforming Federal Land Management

By Randal O'Toole and Chris Edwards. February 2012.