The Selective Enforcement of Government Regulation: Battleground States, State Regulators, and the EPA

48 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2016 Last revised: 2 Jul 2021

See all articles by Huseyin Gulen

Huseyin Gulen

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management

Brett W. Myers

Texas Tech, Rawls College of Business

Date Written: June 30, 2021

Abstract

The Electoral College creates incentives for politicians and regulators to direct policy favors to so called "battleground" or "swing" states (the median voters in presidential elections). We examine
whether regulators treat battleground states favorably by examining whether the EPA is less likely
to find a regulated facility in violation of the Clean Water Act if it is located in a battleground state.
We find that violation rates for these facilities are significantly lower than those in non-battleground
states. Reduced enforcement is widespread and spans a sample period of over thirty years. We
provide important evidence for a mechanism by which this occurs: facilities in battleground states
are issued permits that are more lenient than those in non-battleground states. Identification is
obtained by the analysis of the violation rates of similar facilities located along the border between
battleground and non-battleground states. This selective enforcement appears to primarily result
from lax EPA oversight of state-level regulators.

Keywords: Regulation, regulatory enforcement, battleground states, swing states, public policy

JEL Classification: G18, L51, J18, K32, P48, I18

Suggested Citation

Gulen, Huseyin and Myers, Brett W., The Selective Enforcement of Government Regulation: Battleground States, State Regulators, and the EPA (June 30, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2826741 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2826741

Huseyin Gulen (Contact Author)

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management ( email )

1310 Krannert Building
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1310
United States

Brett W. Myers

Texas Tech, Rawls College of Business ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79407
United States

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