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Environmental Regulatory Competition: A Status Report and Some New Evidence

Arik Levinson ()

National Tax Journal, 2003, vol. 56, issue 1, 91-106

Abstract: Concerns about devolving environmental regulatory powers to lower levels of government permeate debates in the U.S. and Europe about the appropriate level of regulatory authority. In theory, given a long list of conditions, regulatory competition by local governments can be efficient in the same way that tax competition can be efficient: local welfare-maximizing governments set the same standards or taxes as would an omniscient welfare-maximizing central government. In practice, however, these conditions are improbable, especially in the case of environmental regulations, and local competition is potentially inefficient. In the past two years, evidence has begun to emerge regarding the empirical importance of these inefficiencies. In this paper, I describe this nascent literature, drawing parallels to the tax competition literature, suggest some avenues for empirical research, and present some new results.

Date: 2003
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