Environmental Economics

Normative, Social, and Calculated Motivations for Compliance: Marine Facilities and Water Pollution

  • Abstract
    This research addresses differing motivations to comply with environmental regulations. The central policy issues are how compliance and adoption of best practices can be improved. The research objectives are to: (1) test key hypotheses about the role of different motivations in shaping compliance with environmental regulations and adoption of best practices; (2) test key hypotheses about the influence of different regulatory enforcement approaches and assistance on compliance motivations; and (3) draw implications for improving compliance with environmental regulations and adoption of best practices. Approach: Hypotheses will be examined for the compliance of coastal marine facilities in California and Washington states with regulations and best practice guidelines concerning both point and nonpoint sources of water pollution. Key contrasts will be drawn between behaviors of operators of boatyards (point sources of pollution subject to NPDES regulations) and operators of marinas (both point and nonpoint sources of pollution typically subject to voluntary measures), among the enforcement and compliance assistance actions of California and Washington states, and among differing contexts for pollution control and abatement. Data will be collected from separate mail-out surveys to boatyard and marina operators in coastal areas of California and Washington, in-person data collection at selected facilities, and interviews and document collection from enforcement personnel at the state level and within regional enforcement offices in California and Washington. Analyses will include aggregate comparisons of compliance behaviors associated with different types of facilities, ownership and size, and different enforcement and compliance assistance approaches. Research hypotheses addressing variation in compliance behaviors and variation in compliance motivations will be tested using multivariate statistical modeling. Expected Results: The research will contribute to understanding of the motivations of firms to comply with environmental regulations and to adopt best practices for averting environmental harms. A unique aspect of the research is the examination of normative and social bases of compliance that relate to the use of informational and incentive-related approaches to environmental regulation. The research will contribute federal, state, and local-level development and management of water quality programs.
  • Metadata
    Principal Investigators:
    May, Peter J.
    Technical Liaison:
    Research Organization:
    Washington, University of
    Funding Agency/Program:
    EPA/ORD/Corporate Performance
    Grant Year:
    Project Period:
    June 16, 2001 to June 15, 2004
    Cost to Funding Agency:
  • Project Reports

  • Project Status Reports

    2001 Progress Report

    This research addresses compliance behaviors of coastal marine facilities in California and Washington with regulations and best practice guidelines concerning both point and nonpoint sources of water pollution. The foci are behaviors of operators of boatyards (point sources of pollution subject to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System [NPDES] permits) and operators of marinas (both point and nonpoint sources of pollution typically subject to voluntary measures).

    The original research plan was to conduct a series of mail-out surveys to mangers of marine facilities during the first two years of the project. Given the similarities in the issues to be examined, a decision was made to design and conduct a parallel mail-out survey of both sets of facilities (operators of boatyards and marinas) during the first year. Considerable effort was expended during this year to develop facility listings for the design of survey instruments in consultation with state regulators and industry representatives, and in the administration of the mail-out surveys to both sets of facilities. Co-sponsorship for the surveys was obtained from the Northern California Marine Association, the Northwest Marine Trade Association, and the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.

    Listings of 281 marinas and 140 boatyards in coastal and estuarine areas of the two states were identified from various publications and governmental listings. Relevant contact information was verified by phone contact with each listing. Questionnaires were mailed in January 2002 with two rounds of followup lasting until March 2002. Responses were received from 144 marinas (51 percent response rate) and from 61 boatyards (44 percent response rate) for a 49 percent overall response rate. No statistically significant differences were found for marinas with respect to the number of slips or type of marina ownership, and none were found for boatyards with respect to the number of employees or type of boatyard ownership. These comparisons suggest that the mail-out survey responses are representative of a range of marinas and boatyards in the two states. Summary statistics from the surveys have been compiled and reported to respondents and co-sponsors in the form of short summaries of results.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) project has contributed insights for related research addressing compliance by homebuilders with building code provisions and a collaborative project addressing Danish farmers' motivations for compliance with agro-environmental regulations.

    Future Activities:

    Three activities that are consistent with the original project goals, will be undertaken during the second year and continue into the summer of the third year. These activities are: (1) marine facility site visits; (2) regulatory agency interviews; and (3) data analysis of survey and interview data. Site visits with marine facilities will be conducted for selected marine facilities in California and Washington. The purpose of these visits is to obtain a more in depth understanding of issues and compliance behaviors than achievable through survey research. Scheduled interviews with enforcement personnel in California and Washington will be conducted. Regional enforcement personnel will be used to understand agency enforcement approaches, compliance assistance, and enforcement actions. These will form the basis for characterizing differences in overall enforcement strategy with particular attention focused on general versus specific deterrence enforcement actions, and to different forms of compliance assistance. The data analysis will consist first of construction of measures of relevant concepts concerning compliance behaviors and motivations then analysis of factors that explain variation in each.

    Journal Article:
    Winter S, May PJ. Information, interests, and environmental regulation. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis 2002;4(2):115-142.

    May PJ. Compliance motivations: affirmation and negative bases. Presented at the 2002 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Law and Society Association, Vancouver, British Columbia, May 30-June 1, 2002.