Regulating Toxic Waste Emissions: EPCRA Essay

Regulating Toxic Waste Emissions: EPCRA Essay

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I. Introduction

Regulating the toxic waste emissions of polluting organizations has been a costly and time-consuming element of environmental policy for as long as there have been restrictions on these emissions. However, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), signed into law in late 1986, set forth a number of standards that required polluters to disclose information about their emissions levels to the public and started a chain of events that has led to the creation of numerous information disclosure policies. One of the main thoughts behind these laws, aside from the benefit of increased public awareness of pollution in the community and the ability to plan for emergencies involving the wastes from polluters, was that with firms’ toxics use information available to the public, polluting firms would be motivated to regulate their own emissions in an effort to maintain positive public images. Many other laws were later passed with the same ideas in mind, so that there now are a number of different laws requiring information disclosure and encouraging self-regulation by polluting firms and facilities.
Information disclosure policies, as a relatively new concept in environmental policy-making, are quickly gaining popularity over command and control techniques. Subsequently, a fair amount of research has been conducted on whether or not this type of legislation is actually effective in achieving its goal of encouraging firms to self-regulate—some sources sing its praises, while others point out its flaws. This paper will discuss the background and regulation methods of so-called “right-to-know” and information disclosure policies, examine their successes and failures, and will provide an analysi...


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... Shimshack. “Mandatory Information Disclosure and Environmental Performance in the Electric Industry.” Harvard Kennedy School (October 2006). 26 April, 2009 < http://www.hks.harvard. edu/m-rcbg/papers/delmas_montes_shimshack_oct2006.pdf>.
Karkkainen, Bradley C. "Information as Environmental Regulation: TRI and Performance Benchmarking, Precursor to a New Paradigm?" Georgetown Law Journal (2001): 257-346.
Reibstein, Rick. “The Effect of Providing On-site Technical Assistance for Toxics Use Reduction: A Program Evaluation Utilizing Toxics Use Reduction Act Data.” The Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance for Toxics Use Reduction: Paul Richard, Director. April, 2006.
Von Oppenfield, Rolf R. Thomas F. P. Sullivan, ed. "Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act." Environmental Law Handbook. 19th ed. New York: Government Institutes, 2007. 773-819.

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