The Environmental Protection Agency—the largest sponsor of environmental programs—contributed $69 million, or 1.6 percent of their budget, to funding Voluntary Environmental Programs (VEPs) last year.
Yet according to research by Nicole Darnall, assistant professor of environmental science and policy at Mason, and doctoral student Stephen Sides, these programs do not appear to boost environmental performance. In the study of more than 30,000 firms, companies that did not participate in VEPs performed 7.7 percent better than participants.
The way these programs are monitored also appears to affect performance. Companies that are self-monitored—as opposed certified by an external third party—appear to do even worse in their overall environmental goals. Nonparticipating companies outperformed companies participating in self-monitored VEPs by 24 percent.
"Design deficiencies, specifically the absence of third-party oversight of performance monitoring, invite 'free ridership' on the part of some participants," says Darnall. "Companies are taking part in these programs and receive credit for doing so, but some aren’t really adhering to the goals."
The disappointing performance results also appear to relate to weak VEP goals. Darnall says that "While other companies may be meeting program requirements, nonparticipating companies may have stronger goals. Specific and challenging goals result in a higher performance."
Darnall and Sides aggregated results found from nine previous studies from 1999-2007. They defined environmental performance as an objective quantitative change in pollution or conditions contributing to the same such as degree of recycling, pollution prevention and time out of compliance.
More than 200 VEPs exist in the United States at the regional and national levels, and even more operate within states and localities. VEPs include programs such as the 33/50 Program, which asked companies to reduce certain emissions, discharges and waste streams by 33 percent in 1992 and 50 percent in 1995; the Climate Challenge Program, sponsored by the Department of Energy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; the ISO 14001, an externally regulated program; Responsible Care, adopted by the American Chemistry Council; and the Sustainable Slopes Program for ski areas.
"It is important to ask, 'What is the role of these programs?' If VEPs are designed for the single purpose of encouraging participants to improve the environment to a greater degree than companies that don’t participate, then they are failing," Darnall says.
However, she points out that VEPs could have other roles. VEPs can explore innovative environmental policy ideas. “Such ideas can be tested and evaluated before they are implemented across the regulated community.”
The study was published in the February issue (Vol. 36, No. 1) of Policy Studies Journal.About George Mason University
Tara Laskowski | EurekAlert!
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
Urbanization to convert 300,000 km2 of prime croplands
27.12.2016 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering