Tag Archives: Regulatory arbitrage

Jan 7, 2004: “Clarifying” the rules on strip mining

On January 7th 2004 the US Office of Surface Mining (OSM) announced its intention to “clarify” the buffer zone rule of the Surface Mining Act of 1977. Not familiar? It’s the one which controls permits for coal strip mines within 100 feet of a stream… I think you can see where this is going…

Context: Judith Layzer, in her important book “Open for Business: Conservatives’ Opposition to Environmental Regulation” points out that anti-environmental-regulation activists have learned, following bruising defeats in the 1980s, not to go for pitched battles, but rather to under-fund regulators, chip away at rules and so on. It’s a depressing, and depressingly effective inversion of the “bricolage vs breakthrough” theory of technological innovation propounded by Garud and Karnoe (2003)

Since this week has been VERY heavy on United States things, here’s something ELSE that happened: On January 7th 1931, 3 and a bit years after Lindbergh made his trans-Atlantic flight, Guy Menzies made the first solo non-stop flight across the Tasman Sea, taking 11 hours and 45 minutes. By a tragic miscalculation, Menzies arrived on a Sunday, found New Zealand was shut, and in order to simply get a sandwich and a cup of coffee, had to fly back to Sydney.

Garud, R. and Karnøe, P (2003). Bricolage versus breakthrough: distributed and embedded agency in technology entrepreneurship. Research Policy, 32(2), p.277-300.

Layzer, J. (2012) Open for Business: Conservatives’ Opposition to Environmental Regulation. Boston: MIT Press