New Tools for Environmental Protection: Education, Information, and Voluntary Measures

Article excerpt

Edited by Thomas Dietz and Paul C Stern Washington, DC:National Academy Press, 2003. 356 pp. ISBN: 0-309-08422-9, $55 paper.

This book resulted from a workshop convened in November 2000 by the National Research Council Committee on Human Dimensions of Global Change. The "new tools" are seen as an evolving set of alternatives or supplements to strategies that have dominated environmental protection policy.

The authors examine the proposition that alternatives to the earlier "command and control" regulatory strategies are needed to address the changing nature of environmental pollution, with a shift from large "point sources" to more diffuse sources, a shift from a manufacturing-based to a service-based economy, and changes in the political climate that make the use of earlier strategies increasingly difficult. The book's rich and diverse 21 chapters review and critically examine what is known about the potential importance and effectiveness of education, information, and voluntary measures in environmental protection.

The editors refer to approaches that are neither "command-and-control" or "market-based" as "new tools"; however, the "new tools" are not necessarily new. Although command-and-control and market-based approaches have dominated U.S. environmental policy, alternatives have been used over the past decades, exemplified by environmental education of students and the public since the 1960s, information-based programs on energy conservation with home energy audits since the 1970s, the environmental impact assessment provisions of the U.S. Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986. Several plans to stimulate voluntary actions by industry were advanced in the 1990s by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Environmental policies are classified as command-and-control, market-based, education, provision of information, and voluntary measures, with the first two dominant in environmental policy over the past 25 years and the latter three representing the new tools. The "old tools" impose external controls oil behavior and specific tangible sanctions for noncompliance, whereas the new tools rely more on implicit sources of behavior control, with the resulting behavior perceived as voluntary. …