Race to the Bottom Law and Legal Definition

Race to the Bottom is when parties compete for a desired result by making increasingly larger concessions. Although some parties may temporarily out-compete others, the concessions lead to adverse consequences that may go unnoticed until it is too late to change course. Some observers claim that a race to the bottom results when governments compete for business by lowering labor standards or corporate taxes.

"EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] insists it needs oversight authority to prevent a 'race to the bottom,' where jurisdictions compete with each other to lower environmental standards to attract new industries and keep existing businesses within their borders. Whatever the merits of these arguments as a general matter, EPA's distrust of state agencies is inconsistent with the [Clean Air] Act's clear mandate that States bear the primary role in controlling pollution . . . ."[Alaska Dept. of Envtl. Conservation v. EPA, 540 U.S. 461, 506-07 (2004) (Kennedy, J., dissenting)]