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EPA's Audit Policy and State Audit-Privilege Laws: Moving Beyond Command and Control?

May 1997

Citation: ELR 10243

Author: E. Lynn Grayson & Christina M. Riewer

The pursuit of environmental protection traditionally meant the imposition of command-and-control regulation and enforcement by federal and state environmental authorities. For at least 25 years, the protection of this country's air, water, and land resources relied on the development of complex, increasingly sophisticated environmental laws and regulations. Environmental officials ensured the success of these protective measures by establishing aggressive enforcement programs aimed at identifying and prosecuting violators. Over time, enforcement efforts increasingly consumed precious economic and human resources of overburdened, inadequately funded environmental agencies. While most agree that early command-and-control programs achieved positive results, they also concede that changing political, industrial, and regulatory climates are emerging that lessen the need for stringent command-and-control measures to achieve environmental compliance.1

Industry's own efforts to improve its environmental compliance record helped cause these changes. In particular, environmental auditing, which has expanded rapidly over the past decade, has advanced industry's ability to monitor operations to both detect and prevent environmental problems.2 The advent of formalized auditing procedures, including the creation of written audit reports that detail an operation's environmental compliance status and target key areas for improvement, further solidified the usefulness of industry-led self-audits.

Ms. Grayson is a partner at the Chicago office of Jenner & Block and a member of the firm's environmental practice group. She received her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law. Ms. Riewer is an associate at the Chicago office of Jenner & Block in the firm's environmental practice group. She is a 1994 graduate of DePaul University College of Law.

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