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Elizabeth Brubaker

Executive director of Environment Probe, a sensible Toronto-based environmental activist group

With ... laws and regulations, governments have taken power out of the hands of those affected by pollution and put it into their own hands. They have substituted their own cost-benefit calculations for those of the parties involved. Of course they could not possibly know all of the costs of their decisions or weigh them against all of the benefits. What they could weigh were the political costs and benefits of their decisions. The price economic, environmental, and social of such political decisions has often been exorbitant. But government decision makers haven't had to pay the price. Instead, it has been borne by the individuals and communities affected. ... Decisions about resource use should be made closer to the situations themselves. They should be made by those who will be most affected by them. ... But we must empower them to do so. We can't expect them to protect themselves if they don't have strong property rights. Decentralization requires the establishment or restoration of secure property rights.

Mar. 1998 - from "Power to the people", published in The Next City Magazine