Creating a clean environment for ourselves and for future generations is an important and desirable goal. Achieving this goal will involve cleaning up sites which were polluted knowingly or unknowingly by past industrial and waste disposal activities, and ensuring that current and future activities are done in an environmentally responsible manner which minimizes adverse impacts to the environment.
U.S. industry and the American public share the cost of cleaning up polluted sites and making sure that modern manufacturing and waste disposal facilities operate with appropriate environmental controls. Given the importance of a clean environment, most Americans feel that environmental expenditures are justifiable and desirable, although any are not cognizant that they help subsidize these costs. Many people assume that industry and past polluters, and not the general public pay for most environmental costs.
A simplistic answer to the question, "who pays for cleaning up and protecting the environment," is "U.S. industry pays." But ultimately, American consumers and taxpayers also assume some of the burden of environmental costs. However, the ways in which we pay for environmental cleanup and protection are not always obvious, nor do we always get what we hope we are paying for.