For almost three decades, the federal government and state governments have addressed environmental problems primarily through "command and control" regulation. Under this traditional approach, the federal government establishes uniform national pollution limits ("command") that the federal or state governments impose on individual polluters through a system of permits or other controls. However, as the command and control approach has eliminated many of the most prolific sources of pollution, the incremental cost of cleaning up the remaining pollution has risen dramatically, and command and control regulation has become politically less attractive. In addition, command and control regulation may be too rigid to address many of the remaining major environmental problems, such as nonpoint source water pollution.
Stephen M. Johnson, Economics v. Equity: Do Market-Based Environmental Reforms Exacerbate Environmental Injustice?, 56 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 111 (1999)