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Environmental policy and equity: The case of superfund

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  • John A. Hird

Abstract

This article analyzes the equity implications of the EPA's Superfund program by examining the geographic distribution of sites, who pays for cleanup, and cleanup pace. Although the “polluter pays” principle is used to justify Superfund policy, it is a goal that is not-and indeed usually cannot-be attained for past contamination. Further, the geographic distribution of Superfund sites suggests that the likely beneficiaries of program expenditures live in counties that are on average both wealthier and more highly educated than the rest, and also have lower rates of poverty. The pace of the EPA's cleanups, however, depends mostly on the sites' potential hazard, and is not apparently motivated by the localities' socioeconomic characteristics or political representation. The program is found in several respects to be both inefficient and inequitable, yet Superfund enjoys considerable support for reasons beyond these traditional public policy goals, including its political and symbolic appeal.

Suggested Citation

  • John A. Hird, 1993. "Environmental policy and equity: The case of superfund," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 323-343.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:12:y:1993:i:2:p:323-343
    DOI: 10.2307/3325238
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kohlhase, Janet E., 1991. "The impact of toxic waste sites on housing values," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 1-26, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Revesz, Richard & Stavins, Robert, 2004. "Environmental Law and Policy," Working Paper Series rwp04-023, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    2. Michael Greenstone & Justin Gallagher, 2008. "Does Hazardous Waste Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market and the Superfund Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 951-1003.
    3. James T. Hamilton, 1995. "Testing for environmental racism: Prejudice, profits, political power?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(1), pages 107-132.
    4. Schoolman, Ethan D. & Ma, Chunbo, 2012. "Migration, class and environmental inequality: Exposure to pollution in China's Jiangsu Province," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 140-151.
    5. Adam Eckerd & Andrew Keeler, 2012. "Going green together? Brownfield remediation and environmental justice," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 45(4), pages 293-314, December.
    6. Cory, Dennis C. & Rahman, Tauhidur, 2009. "Environmental justice and enforcement of the safe drinking water act: The Arizona arsenic experience," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1825-1837, April.
    7. David M. Konisky, 2009. "Inequities in enforcement? Environmental justice and government performance," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 102-121.
    8. Baden, Brett M. & Coursey, Don L., 2002. "The locality of waste sites within the city of Chicago: a demographic, social, and economic analysis," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 53-93, February.
    9. Marc D. Shapiro, 2005. "Equity and information: Information regulation, environmental justice, and risks from toxic chemicals," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(2), pages 373-398.
    10. Paul Mohai & Robin Saha, 2006. "Reassessing racial and socioeconomic disparities in environmental justice research," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(2), pages 383-399, May.
    11. 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.

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