Jounal Exercise #1 (Volunteer Pollution Cleanup Project in Mexico)

The article, Voluntary Environmental Regulation in Developing Countries: Mexico’s Clean Industry Program, by Blackman, Lahiri, Planter, and Pina was about the voluntary pollution-control programs in developing countries. To figure this out they used the program in Mexico, their Clean Industry Program, as a case study to figure out if voluntary clean-up programs were effective in developing countries.

Basically the researchers wanted to know if the plants in Mexico that were fined for being polluters were the ones that went into this voluntary Clean Industry Program. They also wanted to know if it made any difference to go into this program. In other words, they wanted to know if the polluters that went through this got fined less (and thus polluted less) later after they got out of the program.

To figure out how the voluntary program in Mexico worked, the researchers basically asked two questions. The first was, do the companies that go through Mexico’s Clean Industry Program pollute less afterwards? Then they wanted to know, does Mexico’s Clean Industry Program attracted those who were fined in the past? In order to find out these questions they needed economic data about the companies that went into the program (to find out if they were fined before and after) and they needed a list of what companies went into the program. These they got through public and private records from the Mexican Ministry of Economics and the Federal Environmental Attorney General’s office.

This research question concluded what have been pretty conclusive with other research questions of this kind, that voluntary environmental programs in developing countries do not seem to work very well. The research was pretty simple and straightforward. They did have to get rid of a lot of data and just trimmed it down to data that was relevant and that they could handle, but it seems like it was a sound analysis. It seems as though there is not enough incentive for companies to keep cleaning up their act after they go through the program.

They did find that there was a correlation between companies that were fined and the participation in the program, but the program did not improve the environmental performance of the company in the long run. This is almost puzzling because it shows that maybe the company does want to clean up, at least in order to not get fined, but does not keep it up in the end, maybe because it costs too much or because of lack of other incentives.

This article analyzed what companies go into voluntary environmental programs as well as how they fared when they got out of the program. It used Mexico’s Clean Industry Program as a case study and found that the more fined organizations go into the programs, but they do not get any better when they go out. Thus, voluntary programs do not work very well in the developing world.