There's Something Happening Here: What is Really Happening on the Front-lines of Environmental Regulation
Pautz, Michelle Catherine
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Environmental policy debates are gaining momentum in the public square from scholars and citizens alike. From all sides of the debate, a growing consensus is emerging that advocates a shift in the environmental regulatory system in the United States from one that emphasizes command and control regulations to one that advocates collaboration between the regulator and regulatee. Although this dialogue is expanding, the research literature largely remains silent on a critical component of the environmental regulatory system â the individuals on the front-lines. Most notably, these front-line workers are environmental compliance inspectors and the individuals that inspectors deal with at regulated facilities. Inspectors and facility personnel are largely responsible for the implementation of environmental regulation in the U.S., yet they are overlooked in the discussion of regulation, past and present. These key actors are of tremendous significance and must be considered in discussions of environmental policy. In particular, the interactions of these two important groups of actors merit exploration. This research examines the interactions of inspectors and facility personnel in Virginia and investigates contentions that the relationships in the environmental regulatory system lack trust. One-on-one interviews were conducted with nearly four dozen inspectors and facility personnel in Virginia to seek answers to the question: How does trust factor into the relationships between environmental compliance inspectors and facility personnel in Virginia? In contrast to presumptions in the literature, this study finds evidence of positive relationships between these two seeming adversaries and asserts that trust is present in these interactions. Accordingly, there are potentially significant implications of these findings for future environmental policy. These implications include the realization that the relationships are positive, that there may indeed be differences between relationships at the state versus federal level and the experiences at one level dominate prevailing perceptions, and that traditional assumptions of command and control regulations may not be as valid as previously thought.
- Doctoral Dissertations