This Article critically examines the assumptions underlying the reform movement, and concludes that we should ease the rush to dismantle traditional, deterrence-based civil enforcement. While some of the underlying critiques of traditional enforcement have merit, they do not demonstrate that a wholesale shift to a primarily cooperative-oriented approach will improve compliance with environmental law. In fact, a deterrence based system of enforcement contains many attributes that are equally if not more essential to achieving compliance. Rather than discarding the current enforcement approach, we should move to a system of environmental enforcement that is grounded in deterrence theory but integrates the most constructive features of a cooperative model. Part II of this Article describes the theoretical basis for the traditional approach to enforcing environmental law, and how this approach has evolved in practice. Part Ill assesses the major theoretical critiques of deterrence- based enforcement that underlie the current push for reform. Part IV discusses the positive elements of deterrence-based enforcement and why they should not be abandoned. Part V analyzes the wisdom of the most significant proposed reforms currently being considered or implemented, and suggests a better approach for improving enforcement of our nation's environmental laws.
71 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1181 (1998(