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The Use of Voluntary Approaches for Environmental Policymaking in the U.S

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Author Info

  • Keith Brouhle
  • Charles Griffiths
  • Ann Wolverton

Abstract

The use of voluntary approaches to achieve environmental improvements has grown dramatically in the United States since they were first introduced thirteen years ago. As of 2004, there are over 50 voluntary programs in the U.S. at the federal level alone. These programs take a variety of forms, from large, cross-industry efforts to reduce global climate impacts to smaller, “boutique” efforts aimed at specific industrial sectors. Other voluntary approaches used in the U.S. include negotiated agreements, industry-initiated unilateral commitments, and state and regional voluntary initiatives, but these tend to be used less regularly. Despite the diversity of voluntary approaches in the U.S., they often pursue common, and sometimes overlapping environmental objectives and use similar methodologies to achieve such goals. While most voluntary initiatives in the U.S. state an explicit environmental goal, they may also have less direct policy objectives such as enhancing innovation or increasing awareness of environmental issues. In addition, information about firm participation or environmentally responsible products and products is sometimes shared with consumers. Many argue in favor of the increased use of voluntary approaches in environmental policymaking on the basis of environmental effectiveness, economic efficiency, reductions in government administrative, monitoring and enforcement costs, increases in environmental awareness, and encouragement of innovation. Few programs have been evaluated properly on the basis of these objectives, however. The empirical literature sheds little light on the value of voluntary approaches in achieving goals set by U.S. environmental policy. The difficulty in evaluating voluntary approaches lies in sorting through the myriad of programs, identifying a discernible environmental goal, gathering adequate data for analysis, and measuring achievement of the environmental goal relative to a reasonable baseline scenario.

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File URL: http://yosemite.epa.gov/ee/epa/eed.nsf/WPNumber/2004-05/$File/2004-05.PDF
File Function: First version, 2004
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its series NCEE Working Paper Series with number 200405.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision: May 2004
Handle: RePEc:nev:wpaper:wp200405

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Related research

Keywords: market incentives; pollution control options; voluntary programs;

References

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  1. Konar, Shameek & Cohen, Mark A., 1997. "Information As Regulation: The Effect of Community Right to Know Laws on Toxic Emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 109-124, January.
  2. Shameek Konar & Mark A. Cohen, 2001. "Does The Market Value Environmental Performance?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 281-289, May.
  3. Segerson, Kathleen & Miceli, Thomas J., 1998. "Voluntary Environmental Agreements: Good or Bad News for Environmental Protection?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 109-130, September.
  4. Boyd, James, 1998. "Searching for the Profit in Pollution Prevention: Case Studies in the Corporate Evaluation of Environmental Opportunities," Discussion Papers dp-98-30, Resources For the Future.
  5. Morgenstern, Richard, 1996. "Does the Provision of Free Technical Information Really Influence Firm Behavior?," Discussion Papers dp-96-16, Resources For the Future.
  6. Khanna, Madhu & Damon, Lisa A., 1999. "EPA's Voluntary 33/50 Program: Impact on Toxic Releases and Economic Performance of Firms," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-25, January.
  7. Lutz, Stefan & Lyon, Thomas P & Maxwell, John W, 2000. "Quality Leadership When Regulatory Standards Are Forthcoming," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(3), pages 331-48, September.
  8. Anna Alberini & Kathleen Segerson, 2002. "Assessing Voluntary Programs to Improve Environmental Quality," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 22(1), pages 157-184, June.
  9. Lyon, Thomas P. & Maxwell, John W., 2003. "Self-regulation, taxation and public voluntary environmental agreements," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1453-1486, August.
  10. Blackman, Allen & Mazurek, Janice, 1999. "The Cost of Developing Site-Specific Environmental Regulations: Evidence from EPA's Project XL," Discussion Papers dp-99-35-rev, Resources For the Future.
  11. Michael T. Ozog & Donald M. Waldman, 1994. "Weighting Nonrandom Samples in Voluntary Energy Conservation Program Evaluation," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 129-141.
  12. Blackman, Allen, 2000. "Informal Sector Pollution Control: What Policy Options Do We Have?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2067-2082, December.
  13. Marvin J. Horowitz, 2004. "Electricity Intensity in the Commercial Sector: Market and Public Program Effects," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 115-138.
  14. John W. Maxwell & Thomas P Lyon & Steven C.. Hackett, 1995. "Self-Regulation and Social Welfare: The Political Economy of Corporate Environmentalism," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 122, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  15. Arora Seema & Cason Timothy N., 1995. "An Experiment in Voluntary Environmental Regulation: Participation in EPA's 33/50 Program," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 271-286, May.
  16. Eric W. Welch & Allan Mazur & Stuart Bretschneider, 2000. "Voluntary behavior by electric utilities: Levels of adoption and contribution of the climate challenge program to the reduction of carbon dioxide," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(3), pages 407-425.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ferrara, Andreas & Lange, Ian, 2011. "Voluntary Programs to Encourage Diffusion: The Case of the Combined Heat-and-Power Partnership," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2011-16, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  2. Raphael S. Schoenle & Raphael A. Auer, 2013. "Market Structure and Exchange Rate Pass-Through," Working Papers 62, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
  3. Ian Lange, 2008. "Evaluating Voluntary Programs with Spillovers: The Case of Coal Combustion Products Partnership," NCEE Working Paper Series 200812, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Dec 2008.
  4. David M. McEvoy & John K. Stranlund, 2007. "Costly Enforcement of Voluntary Environmental Agreements with Industries," Working Papers 2007-11, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
  5. David McEvoy & John Stranlund, 2010. "Costly Enforcement of Voluntary Environmental Agreements," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 47(1), pages 45-63, September.
  6. Keith Brouhle & Charles Griffiths & Ann Wolverton, 2007. "Evaluating the Effectiveness of EPA Voluntary Programs: An Examination of the Strategic Goals Program for Metal Finishers," NCEE Working Paper Series 200706, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised May 2007.

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