Command but not Control

Let’s suppose you had a tree in your yard that you wanted cut down, so you hired somebody to cut it. Now, you wouldn’t tell the person what brand chain-saw to use or anything like that; all you would care about is the outcome—the tree gets safely cut down and hauled off. The process the tree cutter uses is up to him, so long as it gets the outcome you want. Unfortunately, government regulations don’t always follow this common sense pattern. Command and control environmental regulation actually forces companies to use certain technologies, much like the analogy of telling the tree-cutter what brand chain saw he has to use. It is because the government has no right, reason, or obligation to force any specific technology upon companies that my partner and I stand resolved: that the United States federal government should significantly reform its environmental policy.

To clarify what we mean in this round we offer the following definitions: Definitions-

The resolution is operationally defined.

Technology Based Standards- Technology requirements specify the techniques or equipment that sources must use to control pollution. “3.2. COMMAND AND CONTROL”, National Center for Environmental Economics, Updated September 12th, 2009 Environmental Protection Agency Basically, technology standards are when the government forces a company to use a certain technology to control pollution.

Performance Standard- A performance based standard states goals and objectives to be achieved “Performance based standards,” ... /13525.pdf In a performance standard, the government sets standards which companies must meet, but they can do so with whatever technology they want.

Command and Control: Though there are different uses for the term “command control” we the affirmative team will be using it in the context of technology based standards. In the status quo, much environmental regulation is performance based. However, there still are much too many technology standards, which cause the following harms.

Harms-( or problems with our current system) 1. Fiscal Government Infringement “Conventional Solutions to Environmental Problems: Command-and-Control Approach” Callan and Thomas, Environmental Economics and Management, 4e, © 2007 Thomson Learning/South-Western, Chapter 4 “Technology-based standards specify the type of abatement equipment or method to be used”

Remember the analogy of the tree cutter? No one cares what kind of saw he uses, so long as he gets the job done. There is no reason for the government to interfere with companies’ technology; the government should just demand the environmentally friendly outcome. Technology standards actually force companies to use a certain process or technology, denying them their right to choose what works best for them.

2. Hindered innovation Not only are technology standards a form of government irresponsibility, but they also hinder innovation. “3.2. COMMAND AND CONTROL”, National Center for Environmental Economics, Updated September 12th, 2009 Environmental Protection Agency “Technology standards are likely to be less efficient than emission or effluent standards; the latter give sources the freedom to choose the least costly method of compliance. Further, technology standards tend to lock firms into one accepted method of compliance, discouraging technical change and innovation.”

The point here is quite simple: the government is discouraging innovation. Since it doesn’t let companies choose their own technology, companies can’t create their own technology. An impact of this is that healthy, innovative competition in the American market is obstructed.

Plan Mandates-

1. Abolish technology standards The command control technology based standards provided for by the Environmental Protection Agency EPA will be abolished.

2. Replace with performance standards The technology based standards would be replaced with output based performance emissions standards of equal emissions control. If you will remember, a performance standard is a standard that restricts the amount of pollution companies’ produce, but doesn’t tell them how to control it. The new performance standards would be enforced in the same manner as those we currently have.

3. Exception- Work practice standards The exception of this plan would be work practice standards, which are technology standards put in place when emissions are immeasurable.

4. Implementation: The EPA shall be allowed all necessary and legal resources, personnel, and funding to implement this plan.

Timeline- The plan shall be enacted within 2 years after an affirmative ballot. Agency- Environmental protection agency, Congress, the President Enforcement- EPA, any other necessary federal agency Funding-

1. Money currently used for technology based standards

2. Five percent cut in farm subsidies (5%=750 Million)

The Affirmative reserves the right to clarify this case later in the round.


1. Responsible Government Regulation

Environmental Economics for Non-Economists: Techniques and Policies for Sustainable Development, John Asafu-Adjaye (author, with strong background in environmental economics), 2005, ISBN: 9812561234, p. 84 “The main difference between a performance standard and a technology standard is that the former sets a constraint on some performance criteria and then allows individual firms to choose the best means of achieving it. On the other hand, the latter actually dictates certain decisions and techniques that should be used to achieve the criteria.”

Let’s look at the logic of this. We know that technology standards mandate a technology and method, and as stated in our first harm this is an irresponsible action on the part of the government. Now our plan cuts technology standards and replaces them with performance standards, which, according to this evidence, let companies choose whatever technology and process they want so long it produces the required outcome. Now this is responsible environmental regulation.

2. Unhindered Innovation

Now that companies are not commanded to use one specific equipment, they are free to branch out and try others.

The Economic Dynamics of Environmental Law, David Driesen (a professor at Syracuse University, College of Law), MIT Press, 2003 ISBN 0-262-54139-4 “Environmental statutes usually encourage performance standards—a form of standard that specifies a level of environmental performance, rather than the use of a particular technique. Performance standards may encourage innovation by allowing polluters to choose how to comply.”

Our plan creates performance standards, which will set innovation free from the hindrance created by technology standards. Business will be free to be innovative and improve technology, stimulating healthy competition in the technology market.

There is no legitimate reason why the government should dictate technology to companies. When we consider all the foolish choices the government has made, it would be wrong to let this same government tell companies what technologies it thinks works best. However, our plan will let companies decide what technology to use, giving them freedom and an ability to be innovative. In the end, we ask you to make a change for the better. We ask you to stop our government from interfering on private business decisions. We ask you to encourage innovation, and promote the competition necessary for a successful free market system. We ask that you allow the government to command that pollution be controlled, but not regulate exactly how to do it. We ask that you stop technology based standards by affirming the resolution “that the United States Federal Government should significantly reform its environmental policy.”