What can a government do to solve an environment problem? Creating incentives for the public to reduce pollution is crucial, and this must be done in an objective way. For example, one of the EPA’s newest web sites, “Surf Your Watershed,” allows you to enter your zip code and learn about pollution sources in your area. You can also learn about the quality of your drinking water, since the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1986 require local water systems to notify their customers at least once a year.
Today, state and local governments have limited resources and are facing tough tradeoffs when trying to protect the environment. Many businesses lobby for weaker environmental rules, and there are some that manage to get around them. Even with enforcement programs, it costs money to purchase land for conservation. Furthermore, it can be difficult to justify buying land for a watershed that will protect public health and the environment. This is why environmental issues often pit jobs against environmental goals, with economic benefits often outweighed by other priorities.
While government regulations are important, they aren’t always effective. For example, a government can impose taxes or directives to make businesses reduce their pollution. However, these measures are rarely implemented in practice. Therefore, the government can also use behavioural theory to encourage changes in consumer behavior. For example, it could provide signs in schools asking students to turn off their engines after school. Using the right incentives will reduce pollution.