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What we Know About What we Know About Toxic Polluter Behavior from the TRI: Evidence from (almost) Twenty Years of TRI Data in The Petroleum Refining Industry

Listed author(s):
  • Linda T. M. Bui


    (Department of Economics, Brandeis University)

Using the TRI to understand polluting behavior can pose challenges due to the limited number of chemicals that are reported, the potential confounding effect of several regulatory programs that affect TRI substances, the lack of output information, and judgments regarding appropriate measures of releases. In an effort both to help illustrate and clarify these issues, I study TRI data from the petroleum refining industry using a balanced panel of 199 refineries from 1988-2003. I find that (1) although both aggregate and toxicity-weighted releases exhibited large declines over the period of study, the pattern of releases were substantially different, strongly suggesting that any inference that is drawn from the data will be sensitive to the measure of releases; and (2) regulatory programs can affect TRI releases both directly and indirectly. The direct effect occurs because emissions of several TRI substances are simultaneously regulated under the CAA and CWA (and other environmental programs and policies. The indirect effect occurs when regulatory programs induce changes in the set of inputs or the production process, leading to changes in TRI releases of substances that are not directly regulated under these programs. Thus, simply “netting-out” CAA and CWA substances from the TRI will not necessarily remove the confounding effects of these regulatory programs.

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File Function: First version, 2012
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Paper provided by Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School in its series Working Papers with number 45.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: May 2012
Handle: RePEc:brd:wpaper:45
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  1. Bui, Linda T.M. & Kapon, Samuel, 2012. "The impact of voluntary programs on polluting behavior: Evidence from pollution prevention programs and toxic releases," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 31-44.
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