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Is Environmental Justice Good for White Folks?

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  • Michael Ash
  • James Boyce
  • Grace Chang
  • Helen Scharber
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    Abstract

    This paper examines spatial variations in exposure to toxic air pollution from industrial facilities in urban areas of the United States, using geographic microdata from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators project. We find that average exposure in an urban area is positively correlated with the extent of racial and ethnic disparity in the distribution of the exposure burden. This correlation could arise from causal linkages in either or both directions: the ability to displace pollution onto minorities may lower the effective cost of pollution for industrial firms; and higher average pollution burdens may induce whites to invest more political capital in efforts to influence firms’ siting decisions. Furthermore, we find that in urban areas with higher minority pollution-exposure discrepancies, average exposures tend to be higher for all population subgroups, including whites. In other words, improvements in environmental justice in the United States could benefit not only minorities but also whites.

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    File URL: http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/working_papers/working_papers_201-250/WP229.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst in its series Working Papers with number wp229.

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    Date of creation: 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp229

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    Related research

    Keywords: environmental justice; air pollution; industrial toxics; Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators.;

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    References

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    1. William Harbaugh & Arik Levinson & David Wilson, 2000. "Reexamining the Empirical Evidence for an Environmental Kuznets Curve," NBER Working Papers 7711, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Princen, Thomas, 1997. "The shading and distancing of commerce: When internalization is not enough," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 235-253, March.
    3. Wolverton Ann, 2009. "Effects of Socio-Economic and Input-Related Factors on Polluting Plants' Location Decisions," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-32, March.
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    Cited by:
    1. Cole, Matthew A. & Elliott, Robert J.R. & Khemmarat, Khemrutai, 2013. "Local exposure to toxic releases: Examining the role of ethnic fractionalization and polarisation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 249-259.

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