As the cover of this issue illustrates, the concepts of compliance and enforcement can be viewed as a system that, at its most productive, achieves balance and continued momentum. Environmental laws and regulations are too numerous and varied for regulators to constantly police and actively enforce in every instance, and the cost and effort of such constant top-down enforcement would quickly overwhelm both taxpayers and the regulated community. Instead, compliance is most effectively achieved in an environment in which the regulated community is given incentives (both positive and negative) and enough clear and consistent direction to achieve and maintain compliance in its particular situations. While many of these incentives are increasingly coming from the public—with the expectation that the companies we invest in and transact with also serve as good stewards of the environment and maintain compliance with laws—governmental enforcement likely will always be necessary to catch the outliers and define the parameters of acceptable compliance.
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