The Time Dimension in Environmental Legislation

Kan Chen
John W. Lathrop

DOI: 10.2190/UM03-5CWX-GMDC-MBXC


Many of the current environmental legislations include specific deadlines for meeting environmental standards. It has been argued that some of the deadlines are unreasonable, as they evidence little regard for economic and social costs. There have already been a couple of occasions where such deadlines have been suspended or postponed, after lively debate. It is possible that there will be more such debate in the near future regarding the further postponement of these deadlines and the suspension of other deadlines.

What are the environmental costs of postponing deadlines? What are the economic and social costs of imposing early deadlines? How do we balance these costs as we consider setting deadlines in environmental legislation? These are the kind of questions to which this paper will be addressed. Specifically, the paper will attempt to illuminate the time dimension issue in its environmental context, to review the past research related to the issue, to discuss the significance of the problem, and to suggest policy-oriented research in this area.

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