EPA’s National Enforcement Training Institute (NETI) and ECOS co-hosted the 2017-2018 compliance research webinar series. These webinars were designed for EPA and state environmental agencies to help program administrators understand how collaboration with academics can identify effective and measurable approaches to compliance.
2017 Compliance Research Webinar Series
Social and behavioral scientists from top research universities presented research findings on compliance monitoring, rule and permit design, reporting and transparency, and innovative enforcement. This series is based on a 2017 workshop on evaluating innovative approaches to foster compliance. Please click on this link to view the workshop report (attached).
2018 Compliance Research for Effective Government Webinar Series
State and academics discussed how they worked together to test and measure new compliance approaches. Ohio, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Maryland and their academic partners give an overview of their innovative projects and the methods used to measure impacts.
The goals of this webinar series are to:
- Educate the state and EPA enforcement community about existing social science knowledge relevant to our compliance assurance programs.
- Promote new collaborations among states, EPA and academics to pilot innovative compliance tools, using more rigorous evaluation and measurement techniques. Academic researchers may be able to help states and EPA design and implement these pilots. OECA may have contract resources to support implementation of a few state pilot projects.
- Share what states and EPA are already doing on innovative compliance pilots.
2018 Compliance Research Webinars:
- Ohio Signage Study, September 12, 2018
The Ohio Signage at Outfalls Study with presenters Brian Hall of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Dr. Jay Shimshack of the University of Virginia.
- Data Analytics from Minnesota and University of Chicago, October 23, 2018
Intelligent Air Quality Forecasting: How the MPCA uses environmental data, artificial intelligence, and technology to predict air quality and inform the public. Presented by Daniel Dix, MPCA Air Quality Meteorologist, and David Brown. In 2017, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) implemented a statewide expansion of daily air quality forecasts utilizing a variety of high-volume data including meteorological and air quality measurements, meteorological model output, and an air quality historical database. MPCA will discuss an artificial intelligence (AI) forecast system that uses this data to create air quality forecasts. Meteorologists at the agency use their experience in weather forecasting and understanding of air pollution behavior to fine-tune the forecast. When the air quality is predicted to be a threat to human health, the meteorologists use GIS to generate air quality alerts and leverage various communication platforms to deliver alert messages to the public. Using Predictive Analytics to Identify Violations and Improve Compliance. Presented by Christina Seybolt, Senior Research Manager at University of Chicago Energy & Environment Lab. Inspections are an essential, but costly, component of ensuring compliance and discovering significant violations. Taking advantage of advances in data availability and computing, we can focus inspections on facilities that are most likely to violate regulations, allowing federal and state agencies to improve statewide regulatory compliance. The University of Chicago has worked with the U.S. EPA to build a predictive analytics model to better identify which hazardous waste facilities are most likely to have serious problems. A field test using this model to target inspections compared to status quo practices is finding that it substantially increases the violation detection rate. University of Chicago staff will discuss how this approach can be adapted across other programs, such as air and water, to increase the violation detection rate and also discuss potential for collaboration.
- Compliance Interventions on the Behaviors of Third Party Lead Contractors, November 8, 2018
Like many states, Maryland relies on accredited third-party contractors to certify the lead safety of homes. Contractors are obligated to report inspections, abatement actions, and inspection results to the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (LPPP). Yet many contractors fail to fulfill their obligations. In collaboration with our research team, LPPP will test compliance interventions with lead contractors in a randomized controlled field experiment. A successful intervention will change the mindsets and expectations of lead contractors and thereby induce improvements in procedural compliance with lead regulations. Procedural compliance allows LPPP to monitor lead safety and ensure that abatement is performed as appropriate, which mitigates or avoids the damage lead can do to human health. Because the experiment is embedded in LPPP’s operations, scaling up successful interventions is straightforward.
In phase one, the researchers test methods of communicating about penalties in a randomized field trial. In a 3×3 factorial design, the researchers test message treatments related to penalty salience and general deterrence relative to the status quo, and the researchers test attention treatments by varying the frequency of electronic communication. In phase two, we test the causal effect of issuing warnings and penalties on notification and certification compliance and on the rate at which health hazards become known to the regulator.
- New Hampshire Hazardous Waste Generator Training Program Description and Measurement Confirmation, December 11, 2018
In 2003, the State of New Hampshire developed the Hazardous Waste Coordinator Certification Program as an additional approach to pursuing hazardous waste generator compliance. This program requires all generators of significant amounts of hazardous waste to have at least one staff member become certified by attending a State-run training event and passing a certification exam. While the goal was to improve compliance through ensuring educated staff at each generator facility, surprising additional benefits were observed and the program was deemed a considerable success internally. However, despite our confidence, providing hard data that we were achieving the intended results proved to be elusive. The logical way to measure success would be to compare inspection compliance rates before and after the program started to see if there was improvement i.e., did we see fewer violations after the program started compared to before the program? Unfortunately, a number of confounding variables made one-to-one comparisons impossible and the expected results weren’t observed. With the help of the College of William and Mary, an alternative approach to measuring the value of the program was developed and implemented.