Pollution Control: Perspectives on the Government Role

January 1, 1971

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Research Publication No. 26

Foreword Scarcely a week passes nowadays that the press does not report some new development in pollution control efforts. Last year Congressmen introduced more than 600 proposals related to pollution problems, and legislators at the state and local level have been similarly active. Industry has devoted increasing amounts of investment funds and executive attention to pollution problems. New government and consumer-sponsored councils and commissions have developed in the fight against pollution, and there is widespread concern about the problem.

Clearly a vast amount of anti-pollution activity is taking place, and innumerable solutions have been suggested. Yet the basic complexity of the pollution problem makes it difficult to gain the perspective necessary for an evaluation of past action and future possibilities.

It is the aim of this study to examine broad aspects of factors underlying the pollution problem and to explore alternative private and government solutions. The study discusses the pros and cons of various fiscal proposals to deal with the problem, as well as technical, political, and economic difficulties faced in setting optimum control standards.

While there is no attempt to present comprehensive estimates of the over-all costs of “cleaning up the environment,” the study brings together a number of cost estimates to provide a general view of the magnitude of dollar amounts involved in making specified improvements. Few long-range answers can be found at this time, but progress has been made toward answers when the. questions become clarified.

Elizabeth Deran, Senior Research Analyst, had primary responsibility for the research and drafting of this study.


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