UW-Madison: La Follette School Environmental Project Among Top 18 In Nation

CONTACT: Terry Shelton, (608) 262-3038, [email protected]

MADISON – The University of Wisconsin-Madison La Follette School of Public Affairs’ 10-year investigation of innovative environmental regulation codified in Wisconsin law two years ago is being recognized by Harvard University and the Council for Excellence in Government.

Wisconsin’s Green Tier program – managed by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the award finalist – is one of the top 18 programs selected to compete for the 2006 Innovations in American Government Award, Harvard’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation announced today (May 4).

The program, which benefited from strong a strong academic partnership at UW-Madison, was named as a semifinalist in the top 50 in March. The seven winners of the “Good Government Oscars” will be announced in July and receive $100,000 each.

The selection committee chose Green Tier and the other 17 programs for their novelty and creativity, effectiveness at addressing significant issues and problems, and ability to be replicated by other jurisdictions.

Green Tier seeks to achieve environmental and economic gain by allowing responsible companies to improve their environmental performance while boosting productivity and cutting costs. The voluntary program creates benefits for regulated and unregulated entities that include businesses, communities and trade associations that aspire to differentiate themselves by delivering superior environmental performance.

Gov. Jim Doyle signed Green Tier into law in 2004 and made it part of his “Grow Wisconsin” and “Conserve Wisconsin” plans. The bill’s author, Sen. Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn), is pleased that Green Tier is receiving recognition for “looking towards a new era of cooperation.”

La Follette School Outreach Director Terry Shelton recalled the school’s involvement from the project’s earliest days.

“The La Follette School started the Green Tier initiative on Oct. 14, 1996, on the 17th floor of Van Hise Hall when we sponsored a roundtable,” says Shelton. That 1996 gathering featured Katharine Lyall, then UW System president, and George Meyer, then DNR secretary.

“Like all Green Tier meetings, the 1996 roundtable brought together regulators, business and nongovernmental organizations,” Shelton notes. “La Follette faculty members Dennis Dresang and Don Kettl were the academic anchors who made the competing groups of regulators, business and NGOs check their guns at the door.

“Since then, La Follette has provided much of the intellectual muscle for the Green Tier effort, including the major study being undertaken by professor Graham Wilson, ” Shelton adds.

Wilson is concluding a three-year project in 2006 to study Green Tier with a $100,000 grant from the Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment Project. This project included an international conference in January 2005 on “Wisconsin Style: New Approaches to Regulatory Innovation” that 300 people from eight countries and 10 states attended. A conference in Madison in June 2007 will feature the study’s results.

Wilson was also involved in the academic side of a statewide bus tour last fall that brought together dozens of business representatives, academics, regulators and a nongovernmental organization leaders that highlighted Green Tier projects and ended with an historic signing of an agreement between the DNR and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

At least five La Follette professors and more than two dozen La Follette students have worked on some aspect of Green Tier. Their efforts include two seminal papers in 1998 that documented environmentalists’ desires for a performance system and businesses’ general frustration with limits of existing regulatory reform.

The La Follette School has advance Green Tier in these additional ways:

– With the Brookings Institute, La Follette organized two conferences on environmental needs and regulatory reform in 1998.

– La Follette students have served as interns and researchers on a variety of projects with the DNR.

– Professors Donald Moynihan’s and Andrew Reschovsky’s current workshop classes are developing criteria and tools for public-private partnerships from a governance perspective for Kedzie, the chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. The class presents its findings on Tuesday, May 9.

For more information, visit http://www.ashinstitute.harvard.edu/Ash/pr_2006sf_index.htm.