Resource conservation or efficiency should not be a factor in determining which products or practices governments allow to be sold or used within their jurisdictions. The best, fairest and most logical way to enhance the preservation and conservation efforts for any resource is for the consumer price of that resource to rise. With resources priced higher, the markets will naturally tend to demand and buy appliances, tools, machines, and other equipment that more efficiently use that resource. The best first step to ‘naturally’ increase the cost of a resource, is to remove any subsidies such a resource receives. Governments should not dictate what kinds of appliances and equipment can be used based on their efficiency.
For example, home sellers should not be required to install low flow toilets as a precondition to selling the home. Neither should high efficiency lighting or the requirement to install skylights be required of anyone by governments. Mandatory fuel efficiency standards for vehicles should not be imposed on any automaker or consumer. If the price of the resource is set correctly, virtually all significant externalities associated with the use of that resource will be paid for by the consumer. If the consumption of a resource (or any product or service) is still deemed too high for either national security (like petroleum) or other reasons, a review of all the true costs of that good or service must be made and their reflection in the final cost must be ensured. If consumption is still deemed to be too high, then, and only then, should additional taxes on such a resource be imposed to further slow it’s consumption.
The flaring of natural gas should be charged a hefty tax to discourage its flaring and encourage its capture and selling.
The same principle could be applied to national parks and other protected lands. Entrance fees, user fees and other fees could be applied so that demand (and wear and tear) at such locations can be lessened.