The New Environmental Regulation

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Environmental regulation in the United States has succeeded, to a certain extent, in solving the problems it was designed to address; air, water, and land, are indisputably cleaner and in better condition than they would be without the environmental controls put in place since 1970. But Daniel Fiorino argues in The New Environmental Regulation that–given recent environmental, economic, and social changes–it is time for a new, more effective model of environmental problem solving. Fiorino provides a comprehensive but concise overview of U.S. environmental regulation–its history, its rationale, and its application–and offers recommendations for a more collaborative, flexible, and performance-based alternative.Traditional environmental regulation was based on the increasingly outdated assumption that environmental protection and business are irreversibly at odds. The new environmental regulation Fiorino describes is based on performance rather than on a narrow definition of compliance and uses such policy instruments as market incentives and performance measurement. It takes into consideration differences in the willingness and capabilities of different firms to meet their environmental obligations, and it encourages innovation by allowing regulated industries, especially the better performers, more flexibility in how they achieve environmental goals. Fiorino points to specific programs–including the 33/50 Program, innovative permitting, and the use of covenants as environmental policy instruments in the Netherlands–that have successfully pioneered these new strategies. By bringing together such a wide range of research and real world examples, Fiorino has created an invaluable resource for practitioners and scholars and an engaging text for environmental policy courses.

One thought on “The New Environmental Regulation

  1. Frank T. Manheim
    6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Most important new book on environmental regulation, November 26, 2007
    Frank T. Manheim (Fairfax VA) –

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    This review is from: The New Environmental Regulation (Paperback)

    Daniel Fiorino is a highly respected expert on public administration, who has focused especially on regulatory reform. Fiorino may have the the wettest finger in the air of any major expert writer on regulatory policy. He should, because he has for some time headed a program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that evaluates regulatory policy and effectiveness. Consequently, he probably has as much in-depth knowledge of how our system has been working since the middle 1980s as any person in America.

    After briefly reviewing regulatory history, evaluating needs for change, and a large number of “Reinvention” experiments in the Clinton Administration, Fiorino points out that the basic assumption of the 1970s environmental laws that continue to form the bedrock of the U.S. system are based on the assumption that environmental protection and business was a zero sum game. In other words, there had to be a top down system of tough laws and compliance requirements or powerful economic forces would always prevail over environmental protection.

    Recent European experience has shown that this assumption is not necessarily valid. Moreover leading nations in the European Union, like the Netherlands, have not only gone past us in many respects in enviromental performance (including dealing with global environmental change) but have done so while achieving strong performance in industrial sectors.

    In the last two of seven chapters, Fiorino reviews “what has worked and what has not worked”, for example, voluntary programs can’t just be add ons to the core system, but must be integral parts or they have little chance of success.

    It’s remarkable and infrequent that a person with responsibilities within our federal regulatory bodies is willing to put themselves out on a limb and discuss issues so candidly. Not surprisingly, the Fiorino book is being adopted by a number of university departments for their courses in U.S. environmental policy.

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