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Environmental Liability and Redevelopment of Old Industrial Land

  • Hilary Sigman

Many communities are concerned about the reuse of potentially contaminated land ("brownfields") and believe that environmental liability is a hindrance to redevelopment. However, with land price adjustments, liability might not impede the reuse of this land. Existing literature has found price reductions in response to liability, but few studies have looked for an effect on vacancies. This paper studies variations in state liability rules -- specifically, strict liability and joint and several liability -- that affect the level and distribution of expected private cleanup costs. It explores the effects of this variation on industrial land prices and vacancy rates and on reported brownfields in a panel of cities across the United States. In the estimated equations, joint and several liability reduces land prices and increases vacancy rates in central cities. Neither a price nor quantity effect is estimated from strict liability. The results suggest that liability is at least partly capitalized, but does still deter redevelopment.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15017.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Publication status: published as Hilary Sigman, 2010. "Environmental Liability and Redevelopment of Old Industrial Land," Journal of Law & Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(2), pages 289-306, 05.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15017
Note: EEE LE PE
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  1. Nijkamp, Peter & Rodenburg, Caroline A. & Wagtendonk, Alfred J., 2002. "Success factors for sustainable urban brownfield development: A comparative case study approach to polluted sites," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 235-252, February.
  2. Kathleen Segerson, 1994. "Property Transfers and Environmental Pollution: Incentive Effects of Alternative Policies," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 70(3), pages 261-272.
  3. Boyd, James & Harrington, Winston & Macauley, Molly K, 1996. "The Effects of Environmental Liability on Industrial Real Estate Development," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 37-58, January.
  4. Chang, Howard F. & Sigman, Hilary, 2007. "The effect of joint and several liability under superfund on brownfields," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 363-384, December.
  5. Thomas O. Jackson, 2002. "Environmental Contamination and Industrial Real Estate Prices," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 23(1/2), pages 179-200.
  6. Segerson Kathleen, 1993. "Liability Transfers: An Economic Assessment of Buyer and Lender Liability," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages S46-S63, July.
  7. Carlo Carraro & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2000. "Behavioral and Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy: Introduction," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0011, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  8. Austin, David & Alberini, Anna, 1999. "Accidents Waiting to Happen: Liability Policy and Toxic Pollution Releases," Discussion Papers dp-99-29, Resources For the Future.
  9. Arik Levinson, 1999. "An Industry-Adjusted Index of State Environmental Compliance Costs," NBER Working Papers 7297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Alberini, Anna & Austin, David H., 1999. "Strict Liability as a Deterrent in Toxic Waste Management: Empirical Evidence from Accident and Spill Data," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 20-48, July.
  11. Wernstedt, Kris & Alberini, Anna & Heberle, Lauren & Meyer, Peter, 2004. "The Brownfields Phenomenon: Much Ado about Something or the Timing of the Shrewd?," Discussion Papers dp-04-46, Resources For the Future.
  12. Alberini, Anna & Austin, David, 1999. "On and Off the Liability Bandwagon: Explaining State Adoptions of Strict Liability in Hazardous Waste Programs," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 41-63, January.
  13. Stafford, Sarah L, 2003. "Assessing the Effectiveness of State Regulation and Enforcement of Hazardous Waste," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 27-41, January.
  14. 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.
  15. Kris Wernstedt & Peter B. Meyer & Anna Alberini, 2006. "Attracting private investment to contaminated properties: The value of public interventions," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(2), pages 247-369.
  16. Tom H. Tietenberg, 1989. "Indivisible Toxic Torts: The Economics of Joint and Several Liability," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 65(4), pages 305-319.
  17. Alberini, Anna & Longo, Alberto & Tonin, Stefania & Trombetta, Francesco & Turvani, Margherita, 2002. "The Role Of Liability, Regulation And Economic Incentives In Brownfield Remediation And Redevelopment: Evidence From Surveys Of Developers," Working Papers 28582, University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  18. Levinson, Arik, 1996. "Environmental regulations and manufacturers' location choices: Evidence from the Census of Manufactures," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 5-29, October.
  19. Chang, Howard F & Sigman, Hilary, 2000. "Incentives to Settle under Joint and Several Liability: An Empirical Analysis of Superfund Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 205-36, January.
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