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Regulatory Overlap, Overlapping Legal Fields, and Statutory Discontinuities

68 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2011 Last revised: 22 Feb 2012

Todd S. Aagaard

Villanova University - School of Law

Date Written: May 1, 2011


Lawmakers and scholars alike criticize regulatory overlap on the ground that giving administrative agencies overlapping jurisdiction leads to duplicative or conflicting regulation which is inefficient and unduly burdensome. This Article challenges this orthodox account of regulatory overlap through examination of six case studies in which the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have managed their jurisdictional overlap so as to create regulatory synergy rather than dysfunction. Although this Article is not the first to argue that regulatory overlap may improve the effectiveness of regulatory programs, the case studies examined here highlight two important aspects of regulatory overlap that existing scholarship has overlooked. First, policy problems that cut across legal fields invite an allocation of authority that vests agencies with overlapping regulatory jurisdictions. Second, regulatory overlap allows agencies to smooth over discontinuities at the interstices of statutes, thereby adding coherence to the law.

Keywords: regulatory overlap, EPA, OSHA

Suggested Citation

Aagaard, Todd S., Regulatory Overlap, Overlapping Legal Fields, and Statutory Discontinuities (May 1, 2011). Virginia Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2011; Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2012-2004. Available at SSRN:

Todd Aagaard (Contact Author)

Villanova University - School of Law ( email )

299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States
610-519-3001 (Phone)


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