Our examination of the Citizen Submission Process focused on how well the overall process worked. In order to address this question, we asked the following two research questions:
The first question is:
In what ways, if at all, does the NAAEC citizen submission process affect enforcement of environmental laws by the parties?
In addressing this question, we made the following sub-questions.
Our second research question is:
How could the process be made more effective in leading to effective enforcement of environmental law?
Our research goal was slightly unusual compared to the research goals of our colleagues in this course. Our project aimed to contribute to answering these complex questions by designing a methodology that could be used, given appropriate time and means, to assess both the success of the process, and to discover what modifications, if any, could make it more effective. In order to achieve our research goal, we followed the following steps:
First we designed hypotheses about our research question. Secondly we designed a pilot methodology that would allow us to collect preliminary data that could be used to test our hypotheses. We then used this data to reflect upon the successes and shortcomings of our pilot methodology. Based on these reflections, we designed a methodology suitable for answering our research questions with sufficient time and means.
Based on our preliminary assessment of the relevant literature and based on documentation about the process, we formulated the following hypotheses for each of our research questions:
First, we made hypotheses about how the citizen submission process leads to the effective enforcement of environmental law.
(1) We hypothesized that the existence of the process, the filing of a submission, and the publication of a Factual Record lead to effective enforcement of environmental law in different ways and to different degrees.
(2) In keeping with how the process was envisioned, we hypothesized that the publication of a factual record leads to increased enforcement in the following way:The publication of the Factual Record leads to increased public awareness of a lack of enforcement coupled with increased media coverage of the specific environmental issue. This in turn leads the public to place increased pressure on the government to enforce the environmental laws in question. As a result, the government increases its enforcement.
(3) We hypothesized that the filing of a submission leads to enforcement in a similar way. We hypothesized that the filing of a submission would have, without the Factual Record, a lesser effect.
(4) Finally, we hypothesized that the very
existence of the Citizen Submission Process leads to enforcement in the
Secondly, we formulated the following hypotheses about ways in which the process could be made more effective.
Our analysis of the relevant literature
stressed that the process is complicated and difficult to use. This was
consonant with our understanding of the process based on the CEC documents.
Furthermore, the information on the three factual records published to
date indicate that submissions take a substantial amount of time. For
example, the filing of the first submission to the publication of its
ensuing factual record took three years.
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