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An Assessment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Performance Track Program

An Assessment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Performance Track Program

Scott Hassell
Noreen Clancy
Nicholas Burger
Christopher Nelson
Rena Rudavsky
Sarah Olmstead
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 134
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  • Book Info
    An Assessment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Performance Track Program
    Book Description:

    This report addresses the conceptual basis, design, and implementation of the National Environmental Performance Track program. The voluntary program sought to encourage facilities to improve their environmental performance and provide a more collaborative relationship between facilities and regulators. While the program had mixed success, EPA should continue to seek out new approaches to complement and enhance traditional regulatory approaches.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5071-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Environmental Science, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The purpose of this study is to assess several aspects of the National Environmental Performance Track (Performance Track) program, a voluntary program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) between 2000 and 2009. This study addresses the conceptual basis of the program, its program design, and its implementation; how it worked with other EPA offices and state environmental agencies; and whether voluntary programs, based on Performance Track’s experiences, have a role, in tandem with more-traditional regulatory approaches, in accelerating improvements in the nation’s environment. The study also provides lessons learned that EPA should consider as it moves forward with...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Voluntary Environmental Programs
    (pp. 5-10)

    Performance Track was set up in 2000 and drew on EPA’s experience with a number of other previous and ongoing voluntary programs. These programs were designed to encourage the private sector to take steps above and beyond those stipulated by regulations in exchange for recognition or greater flexibility to use more cost-effective approaches to meeting regulatory mandates. In this chapter, we describe these programs and the social-science theories on which they are based.

    Environmental policies are designed to reduce emissions or discharges of pollutants or to clean up pollutants detrimental to human health and the environment itself. Environmental policies often...

  11. CHAPTER THREE An Overview of Performance Track
    (pp. 11-28)

    In 2000, EPA policymakers proposed a new VP known as the National Environmental Performance Track program. This chapter provides an overview of the program’s creation, philosophy, major features, major activities, and Corporate Leader designation. It also describes the program’s membership trends, resources, and termination.

    Four documents most directly led to the creation of Performance Track. The first wasAiming for Excellence, which documented ideas for reinventing EPA, encouraging stewardship, and accelerating environmental progress (EPA Innovations Task Force and EPA, 1999). The second and third documents were memoranda issued by then–EPA administrator Carol Browner announcing the development and launch of...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Methodology
    (pp. 29-36)

    To assess Performance Track and answer the five evaluation questions, we conducted a literature review on VPs and Performance Track, interviewed Performance Track staff and collected program information, developed a logic model of the program and identified core program elements, and interviewed program stakeholders.

    The study team reviewed the literature on the history and types of VPs in general and VEPs in particular to clarify the type of analyses that were feasible, what previous evaluations found, and what methods were relevant to the assessment of Performance Track. We also examined previous assessments of Performance Track.

    The literature review drew on...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Assessment of Performance Track’s Concept and Design Phases
    (pp. 37-52)

    Chapters Five and Six address the first three evaluation questions: Were the concepts on which Performance Track was based sound? Did the program design reflect the original concepts? How effective was Performance Track at implementing the program design?

    We address these related questions by examining Performance Track during the three phases of the program that correspond to these questions. We refer to these phases as theconcept phase, thedesign phase, and theimplementation phase. While the boundaries between these phases are not definitive (i.e., some aspects of the program design changed during the implementation phase), they help describe the...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Assessment of Performance Track’s Implementation Phase
    (pp. 53-70)

    In this chapter, we assess the implementation phase of Performance Track by focusing on how the program’s design was implemented across the three core program elements.

    Many stakeholders told us they were not confident of the types of facilities Performance Track was targeting.¹ Stakeholders speculated that the program might have targeted environmental leaders, good (but not necessarily excellent) performers, mainstream facilities, or combinations of these groups. One EPA representative familiar with the program said that the program and its admission criteria were aimed at above-average facilities but that the program also had many top performers, since it was relatively easy...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Cooperation with Other State and EPA Programs
    (pp. 71-76)

    As described in previous chapters, Performance Track worked with the states and other EPA offices throughout its concept, design, and implementation phases. To assess the nature of these relationships, this chapter summarizes and expands on several aspects of these relationships by examining them from the perspective of the states and other EPA offices.

    Early in the program, EPA senior managers and Performance Track staff asked the EPA environmental-media offices and OECA for assistance in developing and delivering regulatory benefits (Browner, 2000a, 2000b). Responding to these requests often required those offices to allocate staff to develop ideas, potentially conduct a rulemaking,...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT The Role of Voluntary and Regulatory Programs in Accelerating Environmental Improvements
    (pp. 77-82)

    To determine whether the approach represented by Performance Track had a role, in tandem with other approaches, in accelerating the nation’s environmental improvement, we drew on interviews, focus groups, and the academic literature. The interviews and focus groups provided a diverse set of views among practitioners about the relationship between VPs and regulatory programs, the level of support for different types of programmatic benefits, and the anticipated and unanticipated benefits that accrued to Performance Track’s members. The academic literature, particularly articles published after the 2000 launch of Performance Track, propose a number of theories about why firms join Performance Track...

  17. CHAPTER NINE Findings, Conclusions, and Lessons Learned for Moving Forward with Voluntary Programs at EPA
    (pp. 83-92)

    In this chapter, we present a summary of the findings presented in the earlier chapters and draw conclusions for each of the evaluation questions. The chapter ends with lessons learned on how Performance Track’s experiences can inform ongoing and future VPs.

    In the 1990s, EPA implemented a series of VPs that sought to find ways to improve the environment that were more flexible, lower cost, and more effective than traditional command-and-control regulation or that could address challenges that were not amenable to regulatory solutions. Following EPA’s experiences with those programs, EPA identified several concepts that provided the basis for Performance...

  18. APPENDIX A Semistructured Interview Questions
    (pp. 93-94)
  19. APPENDIX B Discussion Guide for Focus Groups with Performance Track Members
    (pp. 95-96)
  20. APPENDIX C Discussion Guide for Focus Group with EPA Regional Coordinators
    (pp. 97-100)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 101-110)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 111-111)