Course curriculum

  • 1


    • Introduction

    • Where does pollution come from?

    • 3 Major Sources of River Pollution

    • Carrots & Sticks: incentives and penalties

  • 2

    Pollution Sources

    • Pollution Regulation

    • Urban sewage

    • Agricultural runoff

    • Stormwater

  • 3

    Preventing and fixing the problem

    • Preventing pollution of rivers

    • Removing pollution from rivers

    • Give regulators authority

    • Make regulators accountable

  • 4

    The cost of environmental projects

    • Driving down the cost of environmental projects

    • Inclusive strategies: use advisory committees

    • Flexibility: evaluate actions and replace ineffective ones

    • Regulatory nightmares: farms, churches, charities

  • 5

    Raising the money

    • Raising money: taxes and fees to pay for pollution control

    • Broadest bases for taxes and fees; the broader the finance base, the less painful the collection

    • Call it what it is: let people know what they’re paying for.

    • Change behavior while collecting money: charge polluters more.

  • 6

    A financial agenda

    • Put all the money in one basket; don’t fragment it.

    • Have a full financial agenda and follow it: don’t piddle away the money.

    • Create “dedicated revenue streams”.

    • Use revenue streams as collateral.

  • 7

    Good science and good economics

    • Cost/benefit analyses

    • Use good science and good economics – never politics – to cost out projects.

    • The polluter pays. Everyone is a polluter; so everyone should pay

    • Do it now – inflation raises the cost every day

  • 8

    Financial Mechanisms

    • Financial assistance in general

    • Grants: gilding projects, creating dependency

    • Loans

    • Guaranties

  • 9

    Subsidies and evaluating need

    • Evaluating need

    • Subsidies: no general subsidies; targeted only

    • Targeted subsidies for need – low-income payors

    • Targeted subsidies for hardship – farms, charities, churches, etc.

  • 10

    Leverage, Leverage, Leverage

    • Finance projects – never pay cash.

    • Interest rates

    • Service lives of assets, term of loans

    • The most important lesson: leverage, leverage, leverage!



Michael Curley

Michael Curley is a lawyer and a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. He writes books about environmental law and finance and has taught at the Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University and the Vermont Law School. In 2018-19, he provided the Environmental Commentary on Maryland's public radio station, WYPR. He has worked in government, as the CEO of a state agency in New York and for a Member of Congress in Washington. Michael has worked in 42 countries and has built clean water and basic sanitation systems in Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. And when he's not doing that, he's writing novels and short stories. His author page is at: