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Incentives for pollution abatement: Regulation, regulatory threats, and non-governmental pressures

  • Kathryn Harrison

    (Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia)

  • Werner Antweiler

    (Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration, University of British Columbia)

In the last decade, voluntary efforts by firms to reduce their environmental impacts have received increasing attention from both policymakers and scholars. This article discusses polluters' incentives to reduce their releases. In particular, using data from Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory, it examines the impacts of conventional regulation, threats of regulation, and non-governmental pressures facilitated by public dissemination of information about pollutant releases. The vast majority of reductions reported to the inventory to date were found not to be voluntary, as has often been assumed, but are, rather, the result of direct regulation of a relatively small number of polluters. Strong effects of federal regulation were found among other sources, as well, with much weaker responses to the mere threat of regulation. However, of concern are the growth of less visible waste streams-such as land disposal and underground injection-as well as transfers of wastes to other communities. Finally, evidence is reported that some waste streams are increasing in toxicity, an effect that may outweigh the benefits of reductions in releases. © 2003 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/pam.10137
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 22 (2003)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 361-382

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:22:y:2003:i:3:p:361-382
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/34787/home

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  1. Rennings, Klaus & Brockmann, Karl Ludwig & Bergmann, Heidi, 1997. "Voluntary Agreements in Environmental Protection - Experiences in Germany and Future Perspectives," ZEW Discussion Papers 97-04, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Jeffrey C. Terry & Bruce Yandle, 1997. "EPA's toxic release inventory: stimulus and response," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(6), pages 433-442.
  5. Brooks, Nancy & Sethi, Rajiv, 1997. "The Distribution of Pollution: Community Characteristics and Exposure to Air Toxics," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 233-250, February.
  6. 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.
  7. Seema Arora & Timothy N. Cason, 1996. "Why Do Firms Volunteer to Exceed Environmental Regulations? Understanding Participation in EPA's 33/50 Program," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 72(4), pages 413-432.
  8. Hamilton, James T, 1999. "Exercising Property Rights to Pollute: Do Cancer Risks and Politics Affect Plant Emission Reductions?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 105-24, August.
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