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The Pace of Progress at Superfund Sites: Policy Goals and Interest Group Influence

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  • Hilary Sigman

Abstract

Bureaucracies may set priorities for their workload according to social goals or the desires of concentrated private interests. This paper explores bureaucratic priorities empirically by studying Superfund, the federal program for cleaning up contaminated sites. It examines the amount of time that sites on Superfund's National Priorities List require to complete three states from listing to cleanup, using an econometric method for multiple sequential durations. The empirical results provide little evidence that the EPA prioritizes sites according to their harms. By contrast, concentrated private interests, such as liable parties and local communities, play an important role in the EPA's priorities. Delays caused by liable parties may reduce net benefits of cleanup by 8%. This result suggests a benefit from funding provision of environmental quality and other public goods through diffuse sources, such as broad-based taxes, to avoid the detrimental effects of such concentrated interests.

Suggested Citation

  • Hilary Sigman, 2000. "The Pace of Progress at Superfund Sites: Policy Goals and Interest Group Influence," NBER Working Papers 7704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7704
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    Cited by:

    1. Shanti Gamper-Rabindran & Christopher Timmins, 2011. "Hazardous Waste Cleanup, Neighborhood Gentrification, and Environmental Justice: Evidence from Restricted Access Census Block Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 620-624, May.
    2. Dorothy M. Daley, 2007. "Citizen groups and scientific decisionmaking: Does public participation influence environmental outcomes?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(2), pages 349-368.
    3. Burda, Martin & Harding, Matthew, 2014. "Environmental Justice: Evidence from Superfund cleanup durations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 380-401.
    4. Kahn, Matthew E. & Walsh, Randall, 2015. "Cities and the Environment," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    5. Tamer Çetin & M. Zahid Sobacı & Mehmet Nargeleçekenler, 2016. "Independence and accountability of independent regulatory agencies: the case of Turkey," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 601-620, June.
    6. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 1-22, May.
    7. 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.
    8. Janet Currie, 2011. "Ungleichheiten bei der Geburt: Einige Ursachen und Folgen," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(s1), pages 42-65, May.
    9. Bowman Cutter, W. & DeShazo, J.R., 2007. "The environmental consequences of decentralizing the decision to decentralize," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 32-53, January.
    10. Forslund, Johanna & Johansson, Per & Samakovlis, Eva & Vredin Johansson, Maria, 2009. "Can We Buy Time? Evaluation of the Government’s Directed Grant to Remediation in Sweden," Working Papers 107, National Institute of Economic Research.
    11. Gamper-Rabindran, Shanti & Timmins, Christopher, 2013. "Does cleanup of hazardous waste sites raise housing values? Evidence of spatially localized benefits," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 345-360.
    12. Miljkovic, Dragan, 2006. "Organizational portfolio theory and international not-for-profit organizations," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 142-150, February.
    13. Toshiaki Sasao, 2016. "Econometric analysis of cleanup of illegal dumping sites in Japan: removal or remedial actions?," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 18(4), pages 485-497, October.
    14. Lea Kosnik, 2010. "Balancing Environmental Protection and Energy Production in the Federal Hydropower Licensing Process," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(3).
    15. Julio Videras & Christopher Bordoni, 2006. "Ethnic heterogeneity and the enforcement of environmental regulation," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 64(4), pages 539-562.
    16. Matthew Kahn, 2007. "Environmental disasters as risk regulation catalysts? The role of Bhopal, Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, Love Canal, and Three Mile Island in shaping U.S. environmental law," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 17-43, August.
    17. Antonio M. Bento & Emeric Henry & Scott E. Lowe, 2013. "The Determinants of Credit Allocations in a Market-based Trading System: Evidence from the RECLAIM Program," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 43(1), pages 51-80, Summer.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law

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