Environmental leadership? Comparing regulatory outcomes and industrial performance in the United States and the European Union

Andy Gouldson*, Angela Carpenter, Stavros Afionis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is a widely held view that in the period since the early 1990s the European Union (EU) has overtaken the United States (US) as the leader with the most advanced or demanding environmental regulations. However, it is striking that there are very few robust comparative evaluations of the outcomes of environmental regulations or of levels of industrial environmental performance in the EU and US. This paper seeks to address this by comparing the standards and levels of performance achieved based on a case study of the regulation of a classic air pollutant (benzene) from a widespread industrial sector that has been heavily regulated in both settings for many years (oil refineries). Contrary to expectations, we find that on average normalised levels of emissions from EU refineries are three times higher than those from US refineries, and whilst outcomes in the US show marked convergence towards the best standards, there continue to be wide variations in the outcomes achieved in different EU Member States, despite the rhetoric of harmonisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-285
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume100
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015

Keywords

  • Environmental leadership
  • Environmental performance
  • Environmental regulation
  • Oil refineries
  • PRTRs

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