185997 Policy initiatives by local governments to reduce air pollution

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 1:15 PM

Stephen H. Linder, PhD , School of Public Health, The University of Texas, Houston, TX
Ken Sexton, ScD , School of Public Health, The University of Texas, Houston, TX
A policy design framework is used to account for the recent phenomenon of municipal government interventions to find local solutions to the growing problem of air pollution in American cities. The traditional regulatory scheme for air pollution control in the U.S. combines federal policy formulation with state implementation, leaving local governments to assume a subsidiary role in monitoring and surveillance. Over the past decade, however, the looming specter of air pollution-related health risks has prompted many cities to take action on their own. Despite the hurdles posed by statutory constraints, political realities, industry resistance, limited resources, scientific uncertainties, and data limitations, numerous municipalities have adopted innovative policy instruments to deal directly with sources of hazardous air pollutants. We briefly review this quiet revolution in air pollution policy, discuss its relative success, and examine the fact that locally-initiated control strategies are likely to be distinctive from conventional regulatory tools used by federal and state entities because they tend to substitute cooperation and public disclosure for sanctioned authority, and to rely on negotiated cooperation (rather than confrontation) with individual pollution sources. Recent efforts by the City of Houston to confront the challenges of reducing emissions from the country's largest petrochemical complex are used as a case study to illustrate why and how certain policy designs were developed and implemented. The success of these policies is examined and conclusions are drawn about tradeoffs among available policy options and ramifications of the Houston experience for other municipalities.

Learning Objectives:
Inform participants about new initiatives. Provide a framework for understanding and assessing them. Suggest new approaches to local initiatives in pollution control.

Keywords: Air Quality, Regulations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Ph.D. in political science, several recent articles on this topic, involved in public task force on this topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.