Coming Clean

From American and Comparative Environmental Policy

Coming Clean

Information Disclosure and Environmental Performance

By Michael E. Kraft, Mark Stephan and Troy D. Abel

An investigation into the policy effects of requiring firms to disclose information about their environmental performance.





An investigation into the policy effects of requiring firms to disclose information about their 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.


$50.00 X ISBN: 9780262014953 264 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 1 map, 2 charts, 16 graphs, 19 tables


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262515573 264 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 1 map, 2 charts, 16 graphs, 19 tables


  • 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