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Accidents Waiting to Happen: Liability Policy and Toxic Pollution Releases

  • Austin, David
  • Alberini, Anna

Proponents of environmental policies based on liability assert that strict liability imposed on polluters induces firms to handle hazardous wastes properly. We run regressions relating unintended pollution releases to strict liability imposed on polluters, exploiting variation across states and over time in the liability provisions of state mini-Superfund laws. Strict liability reduces the frequency and severity of pollution releases, provided it is modeled endogenously with the latter. Its effects vary with firm size. Partially sheltered from liability, small firms may have specialized in riskier production processes, but their number has not necessarily grown in response to the states’ liability policy.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-01-06.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2001
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-01-06
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  1. 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.
  2. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 2002. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 88-97, January.
  3. 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.
  4. Hilary Sigman, 1998. "Midnight Dumping: Public Policies and Illegal Disposal of Used Oil," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(1), pages 157-178, Spring.
  5. Titman, Sheridan & Wessels, Roberto, 1988. " The Determinants of Capital Structure Choice," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(1), pages 1-19, March.
  6. Ringleb, Al H & Wiggins, Steven N, 1990. "Liability and Large-Scale, Long-term Hazards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 574-95, June.
  7. T. Randolph Beard, 1990. "Bankruptcy and Care Choice," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(4), pages 626-634, Winter.
  8. Johnson, Shane A., 1997. "An Empirical Analysis of the Determinants of Corporate Debt Ownership Structure," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(01), pages 47-69, March.
  9. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 2000. "Unnatural Experiments? Estimating the Incidence of Endogenous Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages F672-94, November.
  10. Cropper, Maureen L. & William N. Evans & Stephen J. Berard & Maria M. Ducla-Soares & Paul R. Portney, 1992. "The Determinants of Pesticide Regulation: A Statistical Analysis of EPA Decision Making," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 175-97, February.
  11. Ulph, Alistair & Valentini, Laura, 2000. "Environmental liability and the capital structure of firms," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0036, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  12. Boyd, James, 1996. "Banking on "Green Money:" Are Environmental Financial Responsibility Rules Fulfilling Their Promise?," Discussion Papers dp-96-26, Resources For the Future.
  13. Hausman, Jerry & Hall, Bronwyn H & Griliches, Zvi, 1984. "Econometric Models for Count Data with an Application to the Patents-R&D Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 909-38, July.
  14. Pitchford, Rohan, 1995. "How Liable Should a Lender Be? The Case of Judgment-Proof Firms and Environmental Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1171-86, December.
  15. Shreekant Gupta & George Van Houtven & Maureen Cropper, 1996. "Paying for Permanence: An Economic Analysis of EPA's Cleanup Decisions at Superfund Sites," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(3), pages 563-582, Autumn.
  16. Arik Levinson, 1997. "NIMBY Taxes Matter: State Taxes and Interstate Hazardous Waste Shipments," NBER Working Papers 6314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.
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