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Hardcover | $11.75 Short | £9.95 | 264 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 1 map, 2 charts, 16 graphs, 19 tables | January 2011 | ISBN: 9780262014953
Paperback | $30.00 Short | £24.95 | 264 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 1 map, 2 charts, 16 graphs, 19 tables | January 2011 | ISBN: 9780262515573
eBook | $21.00 Short | January 2011 | ISBN: 9780262295994
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Coming Clean

Information Disclosure and Environmental Performance


Coming Clean is the first book to investigate the process of information disclosure as a policy strategy for environmental protection. This process, which requires that firms disclose information about their environmental performance, is part of an approach to environmental protection that eschews the conventional command-and-control regulatory apparatus, which sometimes leads government and industry to focus on meeting only minimal standards. The authors of Coming Clean examine the effectiveness of information disclosure in achieving actual improvements in corporate environmental performance by analyzing data from the federal government’s Toxics Release Inventory, or TRI, and drawing on an original set of survey data from corporations and federal, state, and local officials, among other sources. The authors find that TRI—probably the best-known example of information disclosure--has had a substantial effect over time on the environmental performance of industry. But, drawing on case studies from across the nation, they show that the improvement is not uniform: some facilities have been leaders while others have been laggards. The authors argue that information disclosure has an important role to play in environmental policy—but only as part of an integrated set of policy tools that includes conventional regulation.

About the Authors

Michael E. Kraft is Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs Emeritus and Herbert Fisk Johnson Professor of Environmental Studies Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Mark Stephan is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Washington State University, Vancouver.

Troy D. Abel is Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Department at the Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University.

Table of Contents

  • Coming Clean
  • American and Comparative Environmental Policy
  • Sheldon Kamieniecki and Michael E. Kraft, series editors
  • A complete list of the books published in the American and Comparative Environmental Policy series appears at the back of this book.
  • Coming Clean
  • Information Disclosure and Environmental Performance
  • Michael E. Kraft, Mark Stephan, and Troy D. Abel
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • © 2011
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • For information about special quantity discounts, please email
  • This book was set in Sabon by Toppan Best-set Premedia Limited. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Kraft, Michael E.
  • Coming clean : information disclosure and environmental performance / Michael E. Kraft, Mark Stephan, and Troy D. Abel.
  •  p. cm. — (American and comparative environmental policy)
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-01495-3 (hardcover : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-262-51557-3 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Environmental policy—United States—Decision making. 2. Toxics Release Inventory Program (U.S.) 3. Environmental reporting—United States. 4. Disclosure of information—United States.  I. Stephan, Mark. II. Abel, Troy D. III. Title.
  • GE180.K725 2011
  • 333.71′4—dc22
  • 2010015784
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • Contents
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Preface and Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 Information Disclosure and Environmental Performance 1
  • 2 How Does Information Disclosure Work? 23
  • 3 Reducing Toxic Releases and Community Risks 53
  • 4 States of Green
  • Regional Variations in Environmental Performance 83
  • 5 Facility-Level Perspectives on the TRI and Environmental Performance 119
  • 6 Environmental Leaders and Laggards
  • Explaining Performance 153
  • 7 Conclusions and Policy Implications 177
  • Notes 203
  • References 221
  • Index 241


“Although we have had the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) for nearly 25 years, no one has captured its workings, impact, and meaning like Kraft, Stephan and Abel. Drawing on a powerful mix of their own surveys, analyses of TRI data, and a vast literature, the authors show how the TRI is used now as well as how it could vastly improve. For anyone wishing to understand the promise and limits of information disclosure in environmental policy, this book stands in a class by itself.”
Daniel Press, Olga T. Griswold Professor of Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
Coming Clean does a wonderful job showing how, when, and why the provision of information about pollution releases in the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory can change behavior. Using original survey data and new statistical analyses, the authors illustrate how facilities and communities vary in the degree of their response to information about environmental releases. Regulatory scholars and policymakers interested in how information provision works should read this innovative book.”
James T. Hamilton, Charles S. Sydnor Professor of Public Policy, Duke University, author of Regulation through Revelation
Coming Clean is a model of thorough scholarship, sound empirical research, and well-informed policy analysis. Kraft, Stephan, and Abel have demonstrated that social science research may indeed contribute to our ability to devise better solutions to environmental problems. This book will become the definitive work on the strengths and limitations of information disclosure as an environmental policy strategy.”
Daniel Fiorino, Executive in Residence, School of Public Affairs, American University; Director, Center for Environmental Policy


2012 Lynton Keith Caldwell Prize, given by the Science, Technology, and Environmental Politics Section of the American Political Science Association