- MacLean, Craig A.
University of Maine
Over the last twenty years, the number of environmental laws that regulate some aspect of forest management activities has grown in breadth and complexity. The confusion and conflict in statutes and rules has contributed to a growing concern about inconsistencies in the regulation of forest practices. The 114th Maine Legislature directed the Maine Forest Service to analyze the forest laws of the State of Maine and report its findings and recommendations on inconsistencies in environmental protection standards that regulate forest management activities.
This paper is designed to accomplish four goals: Provide an overview of the legislative process in Maine, identify a process for analyzing comparable laws and regulations, present the findings of the analysis, and suggest future courses of action.
This thesis includes: 1) a brief history of the evolution of this paper, 2) a literature review of policy formulation processes, 3) a procedural look at how laws move through the Maine Legislature, 4) a summary of how policy formulation and the legislative process combine to result in incremental growth of regulatory inconsistencies, and finally, 5) a review of the state laws and agencies. The study is limited to state regulations. It does not address existing or possible federal rules or local ordinances.
The concept of "comparable settings", a method in which various environmental regulations can be uniformly compared in a tabular format is introduced. The two attributes that provide the framework of the comparison tables, "forest management activities" and "protected natural resource", are identified and defined. A brief synopsis of how and why program administrators were interviewed is presented.
The types of inconsistencies are identified and defined. The significant inconsistencies are presented. The interviews with program administrators are summarized.
There is a discussion of the inconsistencies, with specific actions that could be taken. In general, to deal with specific inconsistencies, where the Legislature has stated specific goals, it is reasonable to assume that those goals should be considered statewide in comparable settings. Where the rule-making process has created standards, it is reasonable to assume that pre-existing standards should be considered, if determined to be effective. Some administrative changes, such as the use of BMPs, standardizing definitions, statutory authority, multi-agency task forces and mandated impact assessments are recommended tot improve the process.
The conclusions summarize what has been learned and where the need for further research exists. If laws and regulations are not complied with, the public trust is violated. Inconsistencies have been identified as a major impediment to compliance.
We should work to standardize our environmental protection standards to increase compliance with the laws and to restore public confidence that government can work for the people.
This study has helped to illustrate how the paradigms of public policy help to shape the laws and rules we live under. It has further revealed how we can turn to the theories of public administration to look for answer to problems that we encounter.
This study does not attempt to define the costs to society, the burdens on landowners or the issues of compliance with or enforcement of the laws and rules that the inconsistencies cause.