Regulatory Traffic Jams
Ruhl, J. B.
Notwithstanding the tremendous amount of attention environmental agencies, policy analysts, and scholars have paid to "regulatory reinvention," it has been pitched primarily as a refinement of the sanction and facilitation models, and thus intended to be channeled through the firm-specific behavioral responses predicted under the rational polluter and good-apple models. Little attention has been paid to the systems level question. The relevant question under the systems model is whether there is a component of noncompliance that does not respond to sanction and facilitation policies that are intended to illicit firm-specific behavioral responses. To answer this will require (1) identifying instances when sanction and facilitation policies do not lead to improvements in compliance performance, (2) doing so on a statistically meaningful basis across industrial sectors and regulatory programs, and (3) testing the effect alternative policy responses have on this identified component of noncompliance. Of course, regulatory agencies will have a disincentive to undertake either task: The first suggests flaws in current policy, the second is a daunting undertaking, the third ventures into the unknown and risks failure.