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Assessing the Accuracy of Self-Reported Data: an Evaluation of the Toxics Release Inventory

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  • Scott Marchi

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  • James Hamilton

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    Abstract

    Self-reported regulatory data are hard to verify. This article compares air emissions reported by plants in the Toxics Release Inventory with chemical concentration levels measured by EPA pollution monitors. We find that the large drops in air emissions reported by firms in the TRI are not always matched by similar reductions in measured concentrations from EPA monitors. When the first digits of the monitored chemical concentrations follow a monotonically decreasing distribution, we expect (via Benford's Law) a similar distribution of first digits for the TRI data. For lead and nitric acid the self-reported data do not follow the expected first digit pattern. This suggests that for these two heavily regulated chemicals plants are not reporting accurate estimates of their air emissions. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10797-006-6666-3
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.

    Volume (Year): 32 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 57-76

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:32:y:2006:i:1:p:57-76

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100299

    Related research

    Keywords: Toxics release inventory; Benford's law; Reporting accuracy; Information provision;

    References

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    1. Seema Arora & Timothy N. Cason, 1996. "Why Do Firms Volunteer to Exceed Environmental Regulations? Understanding Participation in EPA's 33/50 Program," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 72(4), pages 413-432.
    2. Khanna, Madhu & Damon, Lisa A., 1999. "EPA's Voluntary 33/50 Program: Impact on Toxic Releases and Economic Performance of Firms," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-25, January.
    3. Dumas, Christopher F. & Devine, John H., 2000. "Detecting Evidence Of Non-Compliance In Self-Reported Pollution Emissions Data: An Application Of Benford'S Law," 2000 Annual meeting, July 30-August 2, Tampa, FL 21740, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    4. Khanna, Madhu & Quimio, Wilma Rose H. & Bojilova, Dora, 1998. "Toxics Release Information: A Policy Tool for Environmental Protection," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 243-266, November.
    5. John W. Maxwell & Thomas P Lyon & Steven C.. Hackett, 1995. "Self-Regulation and Social Welfare: The Political Economy of Corporate Environmentalism," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 122, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    6. Konar, Shameek & Cohen, Mark A., 1997. "Information As Regulation: The Effect of Community Right to Know Laws on Toxic Emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 109-124, January.
    7. Jeffrey C. Terry & Bruce Yandle, 1997. "EPA's toxic release inventory: stimulus and response," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(6), pages 433-442.
    8. Hamilton James T., 1995. "Pollution as News: Media and Stock Market Reactions to the Toxics Release Inventory Data," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 98-113, January.
    9. James T. Hamilton, 1993. "Politics and Social Costs: Estimating the Impact of Collective Action on Hazardous Waste Facilities," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 101-125, Spring.
    10. Christie, William G. & Schultz, Paul H., 1999. "The initiation and withdrawal of odd-eighth quotes among Nasdaq stocks: an empirical analysis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 409-442, June.
    11. Marakovits, Donita M. & Considine, Timothy J., 1996. "An Empirical Analysis of Exposure-Based Regulation to Abate Toxic Air Pollution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 337-351, November.
    12. John T. Scott, 1997. "Schumpeterian competition and environmental R&D," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(6), pages 455-469.
    13. Jon D. Harford, 1997. "Firm ownership patterns and motives for voluntary pollution control," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(6), pages 421-431.
    14. Hamilton, James T, 1999. "Exercising Property Rights to Pollute: Do Cancer Risks and Politics Affect Plant Emission Reductions?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 105-24, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Färe, Rolf & Grosskopf, Shawna & Pasurka, Carl Jr., 2010. "Toxic releases: An environmental performance index for coal-fired power plants," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 158-165, January.
    2. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 1-22, May.
    3. Janet Currie & Johannes F. Schmieder, 2009. "Fetal Exposures to Toxic Releases and Infant Health," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 177-83, May.
    4. Janet Currie & Lucas Davis & Michael Greenstone & Reed Walker, 2013. "Do Housing Prices Reflect Environmental Health Risks? Evidence from More than 1600 Toxic Plant Openings and Closings," NBER Working Papers 18700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. H. Spencer Banzhaf & Randall P. Walsh, 2010. "Segregation and Tiebout Sorting: Investigating the Link between Investments in Public Goods and Neighborhood Tipping," NBER Working Papers 16057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Brooks M. Depro & Christopher Timmins & Maggie O'Neil, 2012. "Meeting Urban Housing Needs: Do People Really Come to the Nuisance?," NBER Working Papers 18109, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Nicholas J. Sanders, 2012. "Toxic Assets: How the Housing Market Responds to Environmental Information Shocks," Working Papers 128, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    8. Lin, Liguo, 2013. "Enforcement of pollution levies in China," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 32-43.
    9. Janet Currie, 2011. "Ungleichheiten bei der Geburt: Einige Ursachen und Folgen," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(s1), pages 42-65, 05.
    10. Hyunhoe Bae, 2012. "Reducing Environmental Risks by Information Disclosure: Evidence in Residential Lead Paint Disclosure Rule," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(2), pages 404-431, 03.

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