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Does Ambient Water Quality Affect the Stringency of Regulations? Plant-Level Evidence of the Clean Water Act

  • Lopamudra Chakraborti
  • Kenneth E. McConnell

This paper provides evidence that the Clean Water Act implemented through effluent limits responded to local water quality. We choose biological oxygen demand as the pollutant and dissolved oxygen as a water quality indicator. We use a panel of permits for 100 plants in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania for 1990 to 2004. We estimate that decline in water quality by 1 mg/L lowers permits by 5 mg/L. This finding demonstrates greater flexibility than might be expected in an effluent standards–based approach. It suggests efficient resource use, with permits relaxed with water quality improvements and tightened with water quality declines.

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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Land Economics.

Volume (Year): 88 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 518-535

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:landec:v:88:y:2012:iii:1:p:518-535
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  1. A. Myrick Freeman III, 2002. "Environmental Policy Since Earth Day I: What Have We Gained?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 125-146, Winter.
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  4. John D. McClelland & John K. Horowitz, 1999. "The Costs of Water Pollution Regulation in the Pulp and Paper Industry," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 75(2), pages 220-232.
  5. Michael R. Moore & Elizabeth B. Maclin & David W. Kershner, 2001. "Testing Theories of Agency Behavior: Evidence from Hydropower Project Relicensing Decisions of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 77(3), pages 423-442.
  6. James T. Hamilton & W. Kip Viscusi, 1999. "Are Risk Regulators Rational? Evidence from Hazardous Waste Cleanup Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 1010-1027, September.
  7. Earnhart, Dietrich, 2004. "Regulatory factors shaping environmental performance at publicly-owned treatment plants," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 655-681, July.
  8. Dietrich Earnhart, 2004. "Panel Data Analysis of Regulatory Factors Shaping Environmental Performance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 391-401, February.
  9. Bandyopadhyay Sushenjit & Horowitz John, 2006. "Do Plants Overcomply with Water Pollution Regulations? The Role of Discharge Variability," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-32, January.
  10. McConnell, Virginia D. & Schwarz, Gregory E., 1992. "The supply and demand for pollution control: Evidence from wastewater treatment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 54-77, July.
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