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An Empirical Study of US Environmental Federalism: RCRA Enforcement From 1998 to 2011

Eric Sjöberg and Jing Xu

Ecological Economics, 2018, vol. 147, issue C, 253-263

Abstract: State enforcement of federal environmental legislation has long been associated with the fear of environmental freeriding and states being too lenient, potentially leading to a race-to-the bottom in enforcement. This paper analyzes the effect of enforcement decentralization from 1998 to 2011 on a range of enforcement outcomes across US states as they have been authorized to implement their own programs aligning with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In this study, we look at the association between enforcement decentralization and corresponding outcomes, namely the number of evaluations, number of detected violations, and the amount of monetary penalties. Results showed that enforcement behaviors have not changed significantly as states have assumed more enforcement responsibilities; hence, we found no evidence of a race-to-the-bottom scenario associated with RCRA decentralization.

Keywords: Authorization; Enforcement; Environmental federalism; Environmental law; Resource and Recovery Conservation Act (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:147:y:2018:i:c:p:253-263