What Drives Participation in State Voluntary Cleanup Programs? Evidence from Oregon

Allen Blackman, Sarah Darley, Thomas P. Lyon and Kris Wernstedt


Virtually all U.S. states have now created voluntary cleanup programs (VCPs), offering liability relief and other incentives for responsible parties to remediate contaminated sites. We use a multinomial probit model to analyze participation in Oregon’s two VCPs. In contrast to previous VCP research, we find that these programs attract sites with significant contamination, not just clean ones. Furthermore, we find that regulatory pressure—in particular, the public listing of contaminated sites—drives participation. These findings imply Oregon has been able to spur voluntary remediation via public disclosure, a result that comports with themes in the literature on voluntary environmental regulation. (JEL Q53, Q58)