Determinants of Decision Making Under a Decentralized Regulatory Environment: A Case Study of the Asbestos Hazards Emergency Response Act (AHERA)

Edward Mensah
Kevin Croke

DOI: 10.2190/27EE-0MB6-07A6-EA9D


The Asbestos Hazards Emergency Response Act (AHERA), unlike previous environmental regulations such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, does not specify a standardized ambient concentration of contaminant against which compliance could be measured. The law only requires that each local education agency inspect for asbestos and, depending on the condition of the material found (undamaged, potential for damage, damaged, significantly damaged), develop and implement a management plan in a timely fashion. The broad latitude given to local authorities regarding the specific level of environmental control adopted raises a new set of regulatory design issues that differ from those involved in regulations with specific compliance standards. This study employs a logit model to assess how local factors may affect the responses that school districts make regarding the level of compliance with the federal asbestos regulations. The results show that press coverage, the effects of more organized interest groups such as unions, and the role of the courts, contribute significantly to the school district's compliance with the regulations. According to the model, the probability of initiating inspections and developing management plans will be decreased by over 60 percent if the school district has a poorer population. The survey underscores the need for regulatory planners to assess the ways in which a variety of interest groups receive and process environmental regulations.

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