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The Pace of Progress at Superfund Sites: Policy Goals and Interest Group Influence

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  • Hilary Sigman

Abstract

Bureaucracies may set priorities for their workload according to social goals or the desires of concentrated private interests. This paper explores bureaucratic priorities empirically by studying Superfund, the federal program for cleaning up contaminated sites. It examines the amount of time that sites on Superfund's National Priorities List require to complete three states from listing to cleanup, using an econometric method for multiple sequential durations. The empirical results provide little evidence that the EPA prioritizes sites according to their harms. By contrast, concentrated private interests, such as liable parties and local communities, play an important role in the EPA's priorities. Delays caused by liable parties may reduce net benefits of cleanup by 8%. This result suggests a benefit from funding provision of environmental quality and other public goods through diffuse sources, such as broad-based taxes, to avoid the detrimental effects of such concentrated interests.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7704.

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Date of creation: May 2000
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Publication status: published as Sigman, Hilary. "The Pace Of Progress At Superfund Sites: Policy Goals And Interest Group Influence," Journal of Law and Economics, 2001, v44(1,Apr), 315-344.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7704

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  1. James T. Hamilton & W. Kip Viscusi, 1999. "How costly is “clean”? An analysis of the benefits and costs of Superfund site remediations," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(1), pages 2-27.
  2. Weingast, Barry R & Moran, Mark J, 1983. "Bureaucratic Discretion or Congressional Control? Regulatory Policymaking by the Federal Trade Commission," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(5), pages 765-800, October.
  3. Sigman, Hilary, 1998. "Liability Funding and Superfund Clean-Up Remedies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 205-224, May.
  4. James T. Hamilton & W. Kip Viscusi, 1999. "Calculating Risks?: The Spatial and Political Dimensions of Hazardous Waste Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262082780, December.
  5. 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.
  6. Shreekant Gupta & George Van Houtven & Maureen Cropper, 1996. "Paying for Permanence: An Economic Analysis of EPA's Cleanup Decisions at Superfund Sites," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(3), pages 563-582, Autumn.
  7. Heckman, James J. & Singer, Burton, 1984. "Econometric duration analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 63-132.
  8. Heckman, James J & Walker, James R, 1990. "The Relationship between Wages and Income and the Timing and Spacing of Births: Evidence from Swedish Longitudinal Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1411-41, November.
  9. Viscusi, W. Kip & Hamilton, James T. & Dockins, P. Christen, 1997. "Conservative versus Mean Risk Assessments: Implications for Superfund Policies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 187-206, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Janet Currie, 2011. "Ungleichheiten bei der Geburt: Einige Ursachen und Folgen," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(s1), pages 42-65, 05.
  2. Michael Greenstone & Justin Gallagher, 2005. "Does Hazardous Waste Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market and the Superfund Program," NBER Working Papers 11790, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Forslund, Johanna & Johansson, Per & Samakovlis, Eva & Vredin Johansson, Maria, 2009. "Can We Buy Time? Evaluation of the Government’s Directed Grant to Remediation in Sweden," Working Paper 107, National Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Miljkovic, Dragan, 2006. "Organizational portfolio theory and international not-for-profit organizations," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 142-150, February.
  5. Matthew Kahn, 2007. "Environmental disasters as risk regulation catalysts? The role of Bhopal, Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, Love Canal, and Three Mile Island in shaping U.S. environmental law," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 17-43, August.
  6. Dorothy M. Daley, 2007. "Citizen groups and scientific decisionmaking: Does public participation influence environmental outcomes?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(2), pages 349-368.
  7. Julio Videras & Christopher Bordoni, 2006. "Ethnic heterogeneity and the enforcement of environmental regulation," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 64(4), pages 539-562.
  8. Bowman Cutter, W. & DeShazo, J.R., 2007. "The environmental consequences of decentralizing the decision to decentralize," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 32-53, January.
  9. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 16798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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