Regulatory Spillover: How Regulatory Programs Influence Voluntary Efforts to Adopt Best Management Practices to Manage Non-Point Source Pollution
Environs: Environmental Law and Policy Journal, Vol. 35, No. 1, p. 37, Fall 2011
63 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2012
Date Written: 2011
A central question in environmental, land use, and natural resources law and policy is the relative efficacy of regulatory versus voluntary approaches to the achievement of performance outcomes. This Article addresses this debate by examining the governance of non-point source (“NPS”) pollution on private lands. It specifically focuses on the prevention and control of sediment — a common NPS pollutant — from private lands in the rural North Coastal Basin of California and examines how regulations, non-regulatory programs, and other factors promote and impede the adoption of pollution control measures on private lands. It draws attention to the ways that formal and informal social interactions influence landowners’ management decisions, highlights the linkages between regulatory and non-regulatory actions, and adds insight into the design of regulatory and non-regulatory programs that recognize and capitalize on the social factors that affect management decisions on private lands. In particular, this study demonstrates that there is “regulatory spillover” from regulatory programs to non regulatory programs and voluntary actions. By requiring some landowners to retain independent technical professionals, the regulation of timber harvests has generated increased knowledge about BMPs among landowners. This then translates into increased utilization of nonregulatory resources and the adoption of BMPs on private lands that are not subject to strict regulatory monitoring or enforcement. Both regulations and non-regulatory programs influence landowners’ knowledge and actions, but they do so in different ways. Most importantly, regulations and non-regulatory programs often work in tandem and their combined influence extends beyond the reach of either one operating independently. It is shown here that interactions between landowners and professionals and amongst multiple landowners can also lead to increased knowledge about and adoption of BMPs. This study illustrates that informal social networks and high quality interactions between landowners and professionals, such as private consultants, regulators, and staff at non-profit organizations, can extend the reach and impact of both regulatory and non-regulatory programs.
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