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RE: so-called levers




I have not been in the environmental field as long as most other people on this listserv, and I've only been on the listserv for a couple of weeks, but I wanted to add my observations.  I think the push for regulatory levers stems mainly from a frustration among government representatives that industry in general is ignoring the message of how P2 can help improve their business because they don't like/trust the messenger (government) or because they just plain don't want to change.

In Minnesota, we have a "Pollution Prevention Fee" that is charged to facilities that report to the Toxic Release Inventory or who are large quantity hazardous waste generators.  These fees pay for Minnesota's technical assistance program (MnTAP) and other pollution prevention programming in the state.  You would think that companies would be falling over themselves to take advantage of these offerings, after all, they're paying for them!  However, that's not what we've observed.  While MnTAP has a great number of success stories they can share, a significant portion of Minnesota's industry still turns a deaf ear.  They pay their fee, grumble about "those darn bureaucrats" and carry on business as usual.

I personally would rather not tell companies how to run their business.  I'd love to see us be able to focus on mastering the tools that Dr. Pojasek and others promote and teaching companies how to use them.  I agree that we need to focus our message on what businesses care about, reducing costs and escaping regulation, and I think that's what we're trying to do here in Minnesota.  However, in many cases, we can't even get our foots in the door long enough to even deliver it.  I think regulatory levers may still be necessary to capture the attention of industry long enough to do that.  I think it's a shame that it might be necessary to have to develop regulations that force companies to improve their efficiency, but I look at the national TRI projections from the 1996 EPA Public Data Release and they still show increases in production-related waste each year.  

Mark Snyder
Pollution Prevention Specialist 
Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance