This introductory chapter has two purposes: first, to present important background information about environmental protection in Poland before and during the transition to market democracy; and second, to provide a general analysis of the determinants of environmental performance, including Poland’s environmental policies and the many institutions that have, at different times and in various ways, impeded or facilitated those policies. Along the way, we introduce certain themes and issues raised in subsequent chapters, which include contributions from some of the most prominent Polish and American economists, legal scholars, sociologists, and policy analysts writing about Poland today. Their varied expertise and perspectives, all focused on the single issue of environmental protection, make this book unique and a valuable contribution to our understanding of post-communist transitions.