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Optimal Pollution Abatement - Whose Benefits Matter, and How Much?

  • Wayne B. Gray
  • Ronald J. Shadbegian

We examine measures of environmental regulatory activity (inspections and enforcement actions) and levels of air and water pollution at approximately 300 U.S. pulp and paper mills, using data for 1985-1997. We find that levels of air and water pollution emissions are affected both by the benefits from pollution abatement and by the characteristics of the people exposed to the pollution. The results suggest substantial differences in the weights assigned to different types of people: the benefits received by out-of-state people seem to count only half as much as benefits received in-state, although their weight increases if the bordering state's Congressional delegation is strongly pro-environment. Some variables are also associated with greater regulatory activity being directed towards the plant, but those results are less consistent with our hypotheses than the pollution emissions results. One set of results was consistently contrary to expectations: plants with more nonwhites nearby emit less pollution. Some of our results might be due to endogenous sorting of people based on pollution levels, but an attempt to examine this using the local population turnover rate found evidence of sorting for only one of four pollutants.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9125.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9125.

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Date of creation: Aug 2002
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Publication status: published as Gray, Wayne B. and R. J. Ronald J. Shadbegian. "Optimal' Pollution Abatement - Whose Benefits Matter, And How Much?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 2004, v47(3,May), 510-534.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9125
Note: LS ED EEE
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  1. Ronald J Shadbegian & Wayne B Gray, 2003. "What Determines Environmental Performance at Paper Mills? The Roles of Abatement Spending, Regulation, and Efficiency," Working Papers 03-10, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. Nadeau, Louis W., 1997. "EPA Effectiveness at Reducing the Duration of Plant-Level Noncompliance," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 54-78, September.
  3. Cynthia Morgan & Kelly B. Maguire & Robin R. Jenkins, 2002. "Host Community Compensation and Municipal Solid Waste Landfills," NCEE Working Paper Series 200204, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Aug 2002.
  4. Kahn, Matthew E., 1999. "The Silver Lining of Rust Belt Manufacturing Decline," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 360-376, November.
  5. James T. Hamilton, 1995. "Testing for environmental racism: Prejudice, profits, political power?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(1), pages 107-132.
  6. Deily, Mary E. & Gray, Wayne B., 1991. "Enforcement of pollution regulations in a declining industry," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 260-274, November.
  7. Magat, Wesley A & Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Effectiveness of the EPA's Regulatory Enforcement: The Case of Industrial Effluent Standards," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 331-60, October.
  8. James T. Hamilton, 1993. "Politics and Social Costs: Estimating the Impact of Collective Action on Hazardous Waste Facilities," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 101-125, Spring.
  9. Seema Arora & Timothy N. Cason, 1999. "Do Community Characteristics Influence Environmental Outcomes? Evidence from the Toxics Release Inventory," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(4), pages 691-716, April.
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