Center for Business and Government, John F. Kennedy School of Government
The paper begins by examining the structure and goals of CSI and then considers its relatively modest accomplishments. The paper concludes with a discussion of a key factor that explains the Initiative's failure to achieve its most ambitious goals: EPA's reliance on consensus as a decision rule. By expecting CSI's committees to achieve consensus before EPA would take action, the agency constrained its ability to spur sector-based technological change and achieve significant environmental improvements. Although consensus-based processes have been touted as innovative and promising strategies for regulators to pursue in environmental policy, often in the absence of clear legislative mandates, EPA's limited success with CSI illustrates some of the shortcomings of policymaking by consensus and suggests the need for clear legislative authorization in order to make significant regulatory change in the United States.
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