Voluntary Pollution Reductions and the Enforcement of Environmental Law: An Empirical Study of the 33/50 Program

We study empirical determinants and effects of firms' participation in the EPA's 33/50 voluntary pollution reduction program. We broaden the existing literature in three principal ways, studying (1) bi-directional links between participation in the 33/50 program and regulatory enforcement, (2) effects of implicit boycott threats, and (3) potential impacts of regulatory preemption incentives. We find evidence that firms' participation in the 33/50 program was motivated by the expectation of relaxed regulatory scrutiny, an expectation that was borne out by regulatory practice. 33/50 program participation and pollutant reductions were also prompted by a firm's likelihood of becoming a boycott target and/or being subject to environmental interest group lobbying for tighter regulatory standards.

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Abdoul G. Sam and Robert Innes

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