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U.S. Trade in Toxics: The Case of Chlorodifluoromethane (HCFC-22)

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  • Randy Becker
  • John Tang

Abstract

This paper explores whether environmental regulation affects where pollution-intensive goods are produced. Here we examine chlorodifluoromethane (HCFC-22), a chemical designated as toxic in 1994 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Trends show a decline in the number of domestic producers of this chemical, a decline in the number of manufacturing facilities using it, and an increase in the number (and share) of facilities claiming to import it. Transaction-level trade data show an increase in the import of HCFC-22 imports since its TRI listing – an increase that is faster than that of all non-TRI listed chemicals. This is suggestive of a pollution haven effect. Meanwhile, we find that the vast majority of U.S. imports of HCFC-22 come from OECD countries. However, an increase in the share of imports from non-OECD countries since the chemical’s listing suggests a shift of production to countries with more lax environmental standards. While the findings here are suggestive of regulatory effects, more rigorous analyses are needed to rule out other possible explanations.

Suggested Citation

  • Randy Becker & John Tang, 2009. "U.S. Trade in Toxics: The Case of Chlorodifluoromethane (HCFC-22)," Working Papers 09-29, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:09-29
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    File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2009/CES-WP-09-29.pdf
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