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Environmental law is important for at least two reasons. Over the last decade, environmental law has probably been the single largest growth area in the law, and this trend promises to continue. Today about half the total cost of government regulation of the economy is attributable to regulation to preserve and enhance the environment. We spend about $160 to $185 billion a year on government regulation, of which something on the order of $90 to $100 billion a year is spent on environmental protection. Between now and the year 2000, that $100 billion is going to increase to about $155 billion, which is roughly 2.5 percent of our gross national product (GNP). To put that in perspective, 2.5 percent of GNP is just about the same proportion of gross national product that we spent on the Marshall Plan after World War II. As a commitment of social resources, then, environmental law is the equivalent of an annual Marshall Plan at home to clean up the environment.
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