Event Detail

Does Being a “Top 10” Worst Polluter Affect Environmental Releases? Evidence from the U.S. Toxic Release Inventory

Presented by:
Wolfram Schlenker
School of International and Public Affairs
Columbia University

Friday, October 19, 2018
Taylor-Hibbard Seminar Room (Rm103)
12:00 pm-1:15 pm

We use the 1998 expansion of the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) that required newly regu- lated industry sectors to report facility releases to obtain exogenous changes in a facility’s relative ranking within a state to test whether being labeled a “Top 10” worst polluter affects a facility’s action. After the expansion of the program some facilities were dropped from the “Top 10” because newly regulated facilities surpassed their emissions. Facilities that dropped out of the “Top 10” in 1998 did not significantly alter their emissions in 1999 or 2000, but had 50% higher emissions in 2001 than they would have had if they had stayed on the “Top 10” list. This timeline is consistent with the fact that EPA does not release emissions until a year and a half after the reporting year, i.e., rankings for 1998 were not released until the middle of 2000. Facilities responded to rankings that are based on onsite-emissions used by Scorecard, but less so to total releases published by TRI, which also include offsite re- leases, suggesting that Scorecard’s aggregation was indeed he relevant information at the time. We find no evidence for a counterbalancing decrease in offsite transfers for further waste management.

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