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Strategic Release of News at the EPA: Could EPA Get More Bang for its Buck by Revising its Media Release Timelines?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 3, 2011
CONTACT: Pete Nelson, 202-328-5191, nelson@rff.org

WASHINGTON—One might expect the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to time the announcements of its enforcement actions to ensure the largest audience draw. However, new research released by Resources for the Future suggests that this is not the case.

After examining the content and timing of 21,493 press releases issued by the EPA between 1994 and 2009, RFF Fellow Lucija Muehlenbachs and co-authors Elisabeth Newcomb Sinha, and Nitish Ranjan Sinha, find press releases announcing enforcement actions or regulatory changes were issued more often on Fridays and before holidays, a time when news has the least impact on media coverage and financial markets.

"Changing the timing of press releases could increase public awareness and provide a stronger deterrent against violations of environmental rules," says Muehlenbachs. "Announcements of violations early in the week, rather than on Friday, would probably be more effective at getting attention."

The paper is available on the RFF website at: www.rff.org/EPAEnforcement.

Elisabeth Newcomb Sinha is PhD candidate in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland. Nitish Ranjan Sinha is Assistant Professor in the Department of Finance, University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Founded in 1952, Resources for the Future is an independent and nonpartisan institution devoted to research and publishing about critical issues in environmental and natural resource policy.

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