WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 18, 2012) –- The R Street Institute today commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, a landmark piece of legislation that continues to offer a compelling free-market response to environmental challenges.

Signed by President Ronald Reagan on Oct. 18, 1982, and sponsored by Rep. Thomas Evans, R-Del., and Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., the CBRA designated a broad swath of undeveloped coastal barrier zones as ineligible for federal subsidies and expenditures. While respecting the rights of property owners to manage their own land, the law takes the fiscally responsible step of ensuring that no taxpayer money is spent to support development of barrier islands and coastal wetlands.

“The Coastal Barrier Resources Act is exactly the right approach to environmental policy,” said R Street President Eli Lehrer. “It illustrates, better than any other major federal policy, the approach to environmental policy that R Street favors: respect private property, stop subsidizing bad behavior and recognize the beneficial functions that nature serves when left alone.”

Today, the CBRA protects 3 million acres of U.S. across the East Coast, Gulf Coast and portions of the Great Lakes. That’s an area larger than all but one national park – California’s Death Valley – in the lower 48 states.

“The CBRA protects 75,000 acres of Florida’s coastal zones, including our beaches and fish, bird and sea turtle habitats,” said R Street Florida Director Christian R. Cámara. “While some developers have lobbied to weaken its provisions, we see great opportunities to take them even further at the state level. Just as the National Flood Insurance Program isn’t available in areas protected by the CBRA, neither should heavily subsidized insurance and reinsurance from state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.”

Lehrer added that environmentalists and free-market advocates alike should look to build upon the CBRA’s structure at the federal level as well, removing federal subsidies for development in areas close to national parks, in the littoral zones of major lakes and rivers, and in areas that face wildfire risk.

“Programs like the conservation compliance measures in the Farm Bill, which withdraw agricultural subsidies from farmers who plant on highly erodible land or fill in wetlands, work the same way as CBRA and have similar success to show,” Lehrer said.

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