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2020 Utah L. Rev. 795 (2020)
Assessing the Performance of Voluntary Environmental Programs

handle is hein.journals/utahlr2020 and id is 825 raw text is: 





            ASSESSING THE PERFORMANCE OF VOLUNTARY
                      ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS

                               Luis Inaraja Vera*

                                   Abstract
          In recent years, government agencies have  increasingly relied on
     voluntary programs to achieve a variety of goals, fiom improving worker
     safety to creating healthier living conditions in urban areas. This type of
     government  initiative is based on a bargain between  the agency  and
     private citizens; the government provides certain incentives-economic or
     otherwise-and  private actors voluntarily adopt behaviors that benefit the
     public. One example  is cleaning up a contaminated site and building an
     affordable housing project.
          While agencies have made substantial progress since the creation of
     the first voluntary programs, much work remains. To move forward in this
     area, and especially with voluntary environmental programs, two critical
     questions  must  be  answered:  First, how  should  we   evaluate the
     performance  of voluntary environmental programs? And second, how  do
     we  determine the appropriate  level of government-federal,  state, or
     local-that  should  be in charge  of  implementing  them?  These  two
     questions have not been satisfactorily addressed to date.
          This Article addresses these lingering questions by evaluating the
     performance  of a sophisticated local voluntary cleanup program.  The
     resulting analysis uncovers some of the shortcomings in how agencies and
     scholars have  previously assessed voluntary programs,  yielding four
     contributions to  the literature. First, the Article offers a  deeper
     understanding  of how   data can  and  should  affect the design  and
     improvement  of regulatory programs. Second, the examination of a local
     voluntary cleanup program provides  much-needed  empirical support for

     * ©  2020 Luis Inaraja Vera. Assistant Professor (starting Fall 2020), Gonzaga
University School of Law; Conservation Law Fellow, Indiana University Environmental
Resilience Institute; Adjunct and Visiting Scholar, Indiana University Maurer School of
Law. For helpful conversations and comments, I would like to thank Vicki Been, Rebecca
Bratspies, Dan Chorost, John Patrick Diggins, Robert Fischman, Charlene Gilbert, Bruce
Huber, Christine Leas, Derek Marcus, Sharmila Murthy, Richard Revesz, Larry Schnapf,
David Schwartz, Linda Shaw, Howard Slatkin, Eric Stern, David Watson, Mark Willis,
Katrina Wyman, Jessica Yager, and the participants in the NYU Lawyering Scholarship
Colloquium, the Furman Center Fellows Presentation Series, and Vermont Law School's
Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship. I am also very grateful to Ingrid Gould Ellen,
Maxwell  Austensen, and Wei You for their assistance with the empirical aspects of this
article. For excellent research assistance, I would like to thank Anastasia Lopatina, Julia
Quigley, Olivia Schneider, and Maliheh Zare. Research for this article was supported by a
generous grant from the New York Community Trust. I would also like to thank the Utah
Law Review staff for their careful and thoughtful editing.


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