An Assessment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Performance Track Program

by Scott Hassell, Noreen Clancy, Nicholas E. Burger, Christopher Nelson, Rena Rudavsky, Sarah Olmstead


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This report addresses the conceptual basis of the National Environmental Performance Track program, a voluntary program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency between 2000 and 2009; its program design; and its implementation. Performance Track sought to improve the quality of the environment by encouraging facilities to recognize and improve all aspects of their environmental performance and by providing a range of benefits, including broad-based recognition, regulatory benefits, and a more open and collaborative relationship between facilities and their regulators. While Performance Track's concepts, design, and implementation had mixed success, the significant environmental challenges that the United States faces require that EPA continue to seek out new approaches that can complement and enhance traditional regulatory approaches. The authors recommend that EPA continue to experiment with voluntary programs, designing tightly focused ones; promote information sharing and networking among regulated entities; strive for complete, clear, and understandable program concepts, designs, and expectations; protect the EPA brand; independently evaluate key program elements; continue to try to change corporate culture to benefit the environment; and identify new ways to independently validate environmental performance.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Voluntary Environmental Programs

  • Chapter Three

    An Overview of Performance Track

  • Chapter Four


  • Chapter Five

    Assessment of Performance Track's Concept and Design Phases

  • Chapter Six

    Assessment of Performance Track's Implementation Phase

  • Chapter Seven

    Cooperation with Other State and EPA Programs

  • Chapter Eight

    The Role of Voluntary and Regulatory Programs in Accelerating EnvironmentalImprovements

  • Chapter Nine

    Findings, Conclusions, and Lessons Learned for Moving Forward with VoluntaryPrograms at EPA

  • Appendix A

    Semistructured Interview Questions

  • Appendix B

    Discussion Guide for Focus Groups with Performance Track Members

  • Appendix C

    Discussion Guide for Focus Group with EPA Regional Coordinators

This research was sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and was conducted under the auspices of the Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program (EEED) within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE).

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