According to a study published in Regulation & Governance, trucking companies are not legally obligated to use best pollution control technologies. This, coupled with weak social scrutiny, means that environmental consciousness is limited in the industry.
Trucking companies in certain niche markets have improved environmental performance by purchasing expensive “greener” trucks and adopting maintenance measures to prevent breakdowns and reduce fuel costs – which, in turn, reduce dangerous diesel emissions.
“Environmentally-friendly actions undertaken by trucking companies are most often by-products of economic reasons, such as avoiding cost of repair, late delivery penalties, customer complaints about reliability, and rising prices for fuel,” says co-author, Professor Robert A. Kagan from the University of California, Berkeley.
The study titled “Compliance costs, regulation, and environmental performance: Controlling truck emissions in the US” finds that in markets numerically dominated by small firms like trucking, social pressures alone are not likely to induce most firms to invest in costly emissions-reducing efforts. “Beyond compliance” environmental improvements are more prevalent when regulators first establish clear regulatory obligations and standards, backed by significant threats of enforcement.
The U.S. government requires manufacturers of heavy-duty diesel engines to produce new models that sharply reduce emissions which have been shown to be very harmful to human health. However, no regulation compels the thousands of companies that operate America’s three million trucks to use only new lower-emission engines.
“Due to the high cost of the new truck engines, a ban or prohibitive tax on the older, dirtier models would drive thousands of small truckers out of business, disrupt a vital service, and generate an intense political backlash”, says Professor Kagan.
He adds, “Any theory of policy design should take into consideration the cost of compliance. The magnitude of the cost that regulated companies have to incur to meet regulatory standards is likely to be a dominant causal factor in policy making and in influencing individual firm behavior.”
This paper is published in the September 2008 issue of Regulation & Governance (Vol.2 Issue 3). Media wishing to receive a PDF or schedule media interviews with the authors should contact Alina Boey, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications or phone.
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Regulation & Governance aims to serve as the leading platform for the study of regulation and governance by political scientists, lawyers, sociologists, historians, criminologists, psychologists, anthropologists, economists, and others. Research on regulation and governance, once fragmented across various disciplines and subject areas, and has emerged at the cutting edge of paradigmatic change in the social sciences. Through the peer-reviewed journal Regulation & Governance, we seek to advance discussions between various disciplines about regulation and governance, promote the development of new theoretical and empirical understanding, and serve the growing needs of practitioners for a useful academic reference. Published quarterly, Regulation & Governance will be essential reading for academics, regulators and regulatory experts throughout the world. It will provide a forum for original research, debate and refinement of key ideas and findings in one of the most important fields of the social sciences.
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