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An Empirical Analysis of Cost Recovery in Superfund Cases: Implications for Brownfields and Joint and Several Liability

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  • Howard F. Chang
  • Hilary Sigman

Abstract

Economic theory developed in the prior literature indicates that under the joint and several liability imposed by the federal Superfund statute, the government should recover more of its costs of cleaning up contaminated sites than it would under nonjoint liability, and the amount recovered should increase with the number of defendants and with the independence among defendants in trial outcomes. We test these predictions empirically using data on outcomes in federal Superfund cases. Theory also suggests that this increase in the amount recovered may discourage the sale and redevelopment of potentially contaminated sites (or "brownfields"). We find the increase to be substantial, which suggests that this implicit tax on sales may be an important deterrent for parties contemplating brownfields redevelopment.

Suggested Citation

  • Howard F. Chang & Hilary Sigman, 2010. "An Empirical Analysis of Cost Recovery in Superfund Cases: Implications for Brownfields and Joint and Several Liability," NBER Working Papers 16209, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16209
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    Cited by:

    1. Endres, Alfred & Friehe, Tim, 2011. "R&D and abatement under environmental liability law: Comparing incentives under strict liability and negligence if compensation differs from harm," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 419-425, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • R38 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Government Policy

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