Conserving Data in the Conservation Reserve: How a Regulatory Program Runs on Imperfect Information

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Enrolling over 30 million acres, the U.S. Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is the largest conservation program in the United States. Under the guidelines of the CRP, the federal government pays farmers to stop farming their land in hope of advancing a variety of conservation goals, including the reduction of soil erosion, improvement of water quality, and creation of wildlife habitat. In Conserving Data in the Conservation Reserve, James T. Hamilton asks how the creation and distribution of information about what is going on across these millions of enrolled acres has influenced the development of the program itself. Drawing upon original interviews with regulators, new data from Freedom of Information Act requests, and regulatory filings, Hamilton brings together and analyzes the streams of information impacting the variety of stakeholders in the CRP. More broadly, the book explores the role of information, including "hidden information" in the design and implementation of regulatory policy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'A beautifully written study of an important program that has not received sufficient academic attention. The Conservation Reserve Program has become an enormously important force for preventing non-point source pollution, providing wildlife habitat, and even reducing emissions of greenhouse gases...Conserving Data does a superb job of explaining the political and economic forces that have shaped the evolutionary path of the CRP.'
Robert V. Percival, Director, Environmental Law Program, University of Maryland School of Law

'Those working at the interface between science and policy will find it of interest, not least because with a light touch the story is informed by a small amount of political theory explained in the introduction.'
John Hopkins, Bulletin of the British Ecological Society

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933115825
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 2/28/2010
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

James T. Hamilton is the Charles S. Sydnor Professor of Public Policy, at the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University and Director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. His prior books include Regulation Through Revelation: The Origin, Politics, and Impacts of the Toxics Release Inventory Program and All the News That's Fit to Sell: How the Market Transforms Information into News.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Foreword Ken Cook xi

Introduction 1

1 Information through the Policy Cycle 7

2 Defining the Environmental Benefits Index 24

3 Interpteting the Conservation Reserve Program in the Field(s) 47

4 The Mechanics of Monitoring: GAO, Congress, and the Federal Register 59

5 The Environmental Working Group Pulls the Pieces Together 78

6 Media Coverage and Academic Analyses: Cycles of Praise and Criticism 91

7 Information and Regulatory Implementation 109

Notes 123

References 131

Index 145

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