Albert C. Lin


Much of environmental law and policy rests on an unspoken premise that accomplishing environmental goals may not require addressing the root causes of environmental problems. For example, rather than regulating risks directly, society may adopt warnings that merely avoid risk, and rather than limiting plastic use and reducing plastic waste, society may adopt recycling programs. Such approaches may be well-intended and come at a relatively low economic or political cost. However, they often prove ineffective, or even harmful, and they may mislead society into believing that further responses are unnecessary.

This Article proposes the concept of "too-easy solutions" to describe these approaches. Too-easy solutions can be classified into three subcategories: (1) fig leaves, policy approaches that appear to do something about a problem without necessarily solving it; (2) pipe dreams, inherently flawed policy approaches adopted with the good faith expectation of solving the problem; and (3) myopic solutions, policy approaches that address part of the problem but may impede its overall resolution. Too-easy-solutions analysis can serve as a powerful mechanism for evaluating policies, facilitating the adoption of more effective approaches, and improving decision-making in the environmental arena and other areas as well.