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Regulation by Revelation
is Topic of Teale Lecture
March 6, 2000

A prominent environmental economist will discuss ways in which disclosure of information can help control pollution, during a lecture on Wednesday, March 15, in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, beginning at 4 p.m.

"Regulation by Revelation: Disclosure Strategies For Controlling Pollution," by Thomas Tietenberg, the Mitchell Family Professor of Economics at Colby College, is part of the Teale lecture series on nature and the environment.

Tietenberg is an internationally acclaimed environmental economist whose work was influential in the move toward the use of market-based instruments for pollution control.

"Professor Tietenberg's seminal work on tradeable emission permits demonstrated the potential cost savings that could be realized from moving away from traditional regulatory approaches toward an approach that makes use of economic incentives and market forces," says Kathleen Segerson, a professor of economics. "He is now, once again, on the forefront in the debate over another approach to pollution control, namely, control induced by the provision and dissemination of information."

Pollution control policy has undergone several shifts since it began in the early 1970s. The first phase involved applying traditional legal remedies such as emissions standards. Over time, however, it became clear that regulatory approaches to pollution control were costly and often ineffective.

A second phase of pollution control focused on market-based approaches, yet the system remains overburdened by the sheer number of substances to be controlled.

To counter these problems, Tietenberg has suggested a new phase involving the provision of information, that allows the community to become an active participant in the regulatory process. He says disclosure may either complement or replace traditional regulation strategies.

Disclosure appears to offer the possibility of fulfilling the large and growing need for pollution control, despite limited budgets and staffs. During his talk, Tietenberg will evaluate the potential for realizing this promise.

The author of 11 books and more than 70 essays on environmental and natural resource economics, Tietenberg holds many distinctions. He is past president of the Association of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. He recently served as team leader for a study for the United Nations on implementing the market-based approach to controlling climate change. He currently serves on the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Compliance Committee.

He has been a Senior Research Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; the Gilbert T. White Fellow at Resources for the Future Inc.; and Economic Policy Fellow at The Brookings Institution. He is on the editorial board of numerous journals.

The Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series on Nature and the Environment each year brings leading scholars and scientists to the University, in an effort to promote interdisciplinary thinking and action on environmental issues.

Carol Davidge