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Regulatory Choices in Environmental Policy

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Regulatory Choices and the Environment

This topic deals with environmental regulation. Students learn about different types of environmental regulation, learning about the specific characteristics of different types of regulation. Students are also required to consider the moral and ethical considerations that should guide the development of regulatory frameworks. This topic also introduces students to strategies for measuring and quantifying the impacts of various regulatory choice for the purposes of cost-benefit analysis.

Topic Learning Outcome: Upon mastering this topic, students will be able to clearly distinguish between different types of environmental regulation and will understand the challenges associated with quantifying the impact of regulatory actions and measuring policy success.

Core Concepts Associated With This Topic: California Effect; Environmentalism; Kyoto Protocol; Race to the Bottom

Recommended Readings: UCLA Public Policy 252 and Urban Planning 263

Portney, Paul R. 2003. “Market-Based Approaches to Environmental Policy: A ‘Refresher’ Course,” Resources 151.

Harrington, Winston and Richard D. Morgenstern. 2004. “Economic Incentives versus Command and Control,” Resources 152.

Morgenstern, Richard D. 1996. "Environmental Taxes: Is There a Double Dividend?" Environment 38 (3): 16-20, 32-4. Overriding Consumer Preferences with Energy Regulations

Roberton Williams. Overcoming Distributional Obstacles to Market-Based Environmental Policies. RFF Weekly Policy Commentary. December 4, 2009. 

Bell, Ruth Greenspan. 2002. “Are Market-Based Instruments the Right First Choice for Countries in Transition?” Resources 146. 

Dangerous Waters_EPA Administrator Whitman and the Arsenic in Drinking Water Standard

EPA Orders Douglas Drinking Water System to Reduce Arsenic 

Benefit-Cost Analysis for Drinking Water Standards: Efficiency, Equity, and Affordability Considerations in Small Communities

Edward L. Glaeser. Demonizing, and/or Taxing, Soda. NYT Economix, Sept. 22, 2009.

Edward L. Glaeser. Should Cities Ban Smoking in Public Places? NYT Economix, Nov. 11, 2008.

Sample Assessment Questions:

      1.)   In one page, describe the key objectives of environmental regulation.

      2.)   Explain, in one page and with an example, why it is sometimes difficult to measure the impact of an environmental regulation and to assess the success of that regulation in achieving its objective(s).

      3.)   What is meant by the term “market-based” environmental regulation? What are some of the possible advantages and disadvantages of this approach to environmental policymaking?

Page Created By: Katherine Valiquette, 20 March 2015; edited by Ben Eisen.


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© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance