The Failures of Compliance, Abatement and Mitigation
Chapter 2: Measuring pollution
Good environmental regulation depends on high-quality data. How much do we really know about environmental quality in this country? More pointedly, can we be reasonably sure that our expensive, complex regulations achieve the desired results? Far too often, regulators cannot confidently convey the environmental bases or consequences of their regulatory programs. Consequently, it is exceedingly difficult to hold the policy community– regulators, dischargers and other stakeholders–accountable for their actions. Policy scholars have not helped much. Those of us writing about policies rely on environmental data without adequately examining their quality. Chapter 2 explores the evidentiary problem confronting modern environmental regulation, using the US Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) as an illustrative case. In addition to examining problems with the data, this chapter also suggests that policy scholars cannot possibly draw credible conclusions from environmental data collected by others without carefully addressing the data’s errors and uncertainties.
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