Evaluating Environmental Policies

Environment, Vol. 47, No. 2, p. 22, 2005

KSG Working Paper No. RWP04-049

38 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2004 Last revised: 12 Feb 2012

See all articles by Lori Snyder Bennear

Lori Snyder Bennear

Duke University - Nicholas School of the Environment

Cary Coglianese

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Date Written: November 1, 2004


For too long, environmental policymaking has relied on trial and error, without adequate or systematic learning from either the trials or the errors. Systematic program evaluation research has been remarkably scarce relative to the overall number of environmental policies adopted in the United States, as well as relative to the amount of evaluation research found in other fields, such as medicine, education, or transportation safety. This paper examines the role that program evaluation should play in environmental policy making, distinguishing such research from other types of analysis, including risk assessment, cost-effectiveness analysis, and cost-benefit analysis. It explains the kinds of methodological practices that researchers should use to isolate the causal effects of particular environmental regulations and policies. By adhering to the program evaluation methods discussed in this paper, researchers will be better able to isolate the effects of specific policy interventions and help inform future policy decisions. A renewed and expanded commitment to program evaluation of environmental policy is needed to move environmental policy making closer to an evidence-based practice, and conditions are probably more ripe now for fostering such a commitment than they have ever been before.

Title change prior to publication: "Measuring Progress: Program Evaluation of Environmental Policies."

Keywords: program evaluation, public policy, environmental policy and regulation

JEL Classification: I18, K23, K32, Q28

Suggested Citation

Bennear, Lori Snyder and Coglianese, Cary, Evaluating Environmental Policies (November 1, 2004). Environment, Vol. 47, No. 2, p. 22, 2005, KSG Working Paper No. RWP04-049, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=619901 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.619901

Lori Snyder Bennear

Duke University - Nicholas School of the Environment ( email )

Box 90328
Durham, NC 27708-0328
United States

Cary Coglianese (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-6867 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.upenn.edu/coglianese

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