Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

McSpadden, Lettie Marie

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


United States. Environmental Protection Agency; United States. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976; Environmental law--United States


This dissertation seeks to determine the extent of regional differences in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement actions regarding Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) civil judicial cases and what variables influence these differences. Enforcement is administered through EPA headquarters, Office of Enforcement and Compliance, but the responsibility of oversight and enforcement actions against violators are carried out mostly by the EPA's 10 regional offices. RCRA is a federal statute designed to regulate five types of disposal activities: hazardous waste, solid waste, underground storage tanks, oil waste, and medical waste. It sets up a nationwide management and record-keeping system designed to track serious hazardous waste problems. As do most major federal environmental statutes, RCRA authorizes EPA to file actions in federal district court to obtain civil penalties and/or injunctive relief against violators. Although penalty guidelines are outlined in RCRA, the actual fine imposed is the result of a specific judicial decision. Although some variation is expected due to local conditions, the core enforcement requirements should be implemented consistently; i.e., similar violations should be met with similar enforcement responses, regardless of geographic location. This research evaluates three competing models that attempt to explain and predict case outcomes: the law school model, the political culture/regional model, and the economic model. An integrated model is also evaluated.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [142]-153).


ix, 168 pages, maps




Northern Illinois University

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