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Barriers to Environmental Technology Innovation and Use

April 1998

Citation: 28 ELR 10202

Issue: 4

Author: Byron Swift

Editors' Summary: Through an analysis of six case studies of specific industries, this Dialogue identifies barriers to the development of new environmental technologies. After providing background information on the environmental technology industry, the author discusses barriers to technology innovation that are specific to the environmental regulatory system. He then identifies the barriers to innovation that arise from economic and business conditions, including industry conservatism and risk aversion, inadequate funding, and a lack of research and development. In a final section, the author offers possible solutions to the problem, including moving from end-of-pipe rate standards in our laws toward overall performance standards like emissions caps, eliminating provisions in RCRA and state utility codes that restrict technological innovation, and developing policy solutions to the economic barriers involved. These approaches, together with cost and demand drivers, can transform our adequate environmental compliance system into an excellent one.

Byron Swift is a Senior Attorney and Director of the Technology Center of the Environmental Law Institute. His work addresses issues of technology innovation and regulatory policies to achieve least-cost pollution abatement through development of performance standards and mechanisms oriented toward pollution prevention. The author would like to thank Dallas Burtraw, Barry Elman, Grant Ferrier, John Henry, Walter Howes, Suellen Keiner, Elissa Parker, Dave Rejeski, Bob Sachs, and Donn Viviani for their opinions and advice on the subjects treated in this Dialogue.

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