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Factors Influencing the Activity and Perceived Effectiveness of Virginia Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs)
Unformatted Document Text:  Factors Influencing the Activity and Perceived Effectiveness of Virginia Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) Jill Templeton and Gary Kirk Presented at the Midwest Political Science Association’s 2008 Conference Abstract We examine the implementation of the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (also known as SARA, Title III) requiring local communities to plan for accidents at chemical facilities and citizens to have access to information provided by these companies. We surveyed members of local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) in Virginia to determine their level of activity based on compliance with the statute and their proactive efforts. The number of facilities submitting reports to LEPCs and the type of LEPC (city, county, or joint) significantly influenced the level of activity and the proactive efforts. We also found the perceived effectiveness of relatively active LEPCs is not related to these concepts. This suggests a need to revisit how LEPC efforts are assessed and to educate LEPCs on expectations. This is particularly important with many LEPCs in Virginia addressing and expressing interest in expanding their scope to address all-hazards including a wide range of human- caused and natural disasters. Background In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first mandatory reports of toxic emissions in the United States. The year before, companies emitted more than 20 billion tons of toxic chemicals, an amount much larger than expected especially considering the total did not include the contributions of certain sectors and small

Authors: Templeton, Jill. and Kirk, Gary.
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Factors Influencing the Activity and Perceived Effectiveness of Virginia
Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs)
Jill Templeton and Gary Kirk
Presented at the Midwest Political Science Association’s 2008 Conference
Abstract
We examine the implementation of the 1986 Emergency Planning and
Community Right-to-Know Act (also known as SARA, Title III) requiring local
communities to plan for accidents at chemical facilities and citizens to have access to
information provided by these companies. We surveyed members of local emergency
planning committees (LEPCs) in Virginia to determine their level of activity based on
compliance with the statute and their proactive efforts. The number of facilities
submitting reports to LEPCs and the type of LEPC (city, county, or joint) significantly
influenced the level of activity and the proactive efforts. We also found the perceived
effectiveness of relatively active LEPCs is not related to these concepts. This suggests a
need to revisit how LEPC efforts are assessed and to educate LEPCs on expectations.
This is particularly important with many LEPCs in Virginia addressing and expressing
interest in expanding their scope to address all-hazards including a wide range of human-
caused and natural disasters.
Background
In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first mandatory
reports of toxic emissions in the United States. The year before, companies emitted more
than 20 billion tons of toxic chemicals, an amount much larger than expected especially
considering the total did not include the contributions of certain sectors and small


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