WASHINGTON, DC April 14, 1997— Environmental audit laws demonstrate state leadership in environmental policy innovation, according to a new study. The state laws provide privilege and/or immunity for voluntarily conducted audits and any discovered violations so long as they are disclosed and corrected. Nineteen states have passed environmental audit bills since 1993, and more are likely to follow suit.
"Audit laws represent a state-initiated improvement in environmental protection over the flawed central planning approach that has thus far dominated the field," said Ben Lieberman, CEI environmental research associate and author of the new study, Environmental Audits: State Carrots Versus Federal Sticks In Environmental Enforcement.
Environmental audits shift the focus away from Washington, D.C. and towards state governments. Audits replace the red tape and litigation inherent in the command-and-control model of environmental protection with a more streamlined, results-oriented, and cooperative approach. "Audits are good for the environment, but bad for many career environmentalists," says Lieberman.
The Clinton Administration opposes state audit laws and Congressional efforts to enact a federal counterpart. The EPA has engaged in an intimidation campaign against states with audit laws as well as those considering audit bills. The federal government argues that the laws, in particular the privilege they extend to audit reports, fail to deter violations and protect the environment, interfere with its own enforcement efforts, and are unnecessary to encourage audits. None of these arguments stand up to scrutiny, and the real-world experience with audits is positive, as several states report that they are already resulting in additional environmental cleanup.
For more information, contact Greg Smith at (202) 331-1010 or gsmith@CEI.org.