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Title:Location choice and environmental performance of toxic-releasing facilities in the United States
Author(s):Wang, Xiao
Director of Research:Khanna, Madhu; Deltas, George
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Khanna, Madhu
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bi, Xiang; Ando, Amy; Myers, Erica
Department / Program:Agr & Consumer Economics
Discipline:Agricultural & Applied Econ
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Location Choice, Information Disclosure
Abstract:Current efforts in the United States to reduce toxic chemical releases from facilities rely on information disclosure programs such as the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). The disclosure intends to help local communities take information-based actions and generate pressure on the facilities to reduce emissions. However, depending on residents’ political resources for collective action and their education regarding the health risks related to pollution, communities’ pressure can vary, and is usually weak in poor, minority, and less educated communities. Facilities may react to community pressure after the information disclosure by moving away from or improving their environmental performance in the communities with stronger pressure, which usually have a high socio-economic status. This can lead to disproportionately high exposure of residents to toxic chemicals in those disadvantaged communities, which can aggravate the problem of environmental injustice. This dissertation seeks to empirically examine the responses of toxic-releasing facilities to community pressure in making their decisions to (re-)locate or to improve their environmental performance after the TRI information disclosure. The main body of this dissertation is composed of four distinct studies. The first three studies focus on facilities that existed before the TRI and continued operating after its first disclosure. The first study examines the effect of community socio-economic characteristics on the relocation decisions of facilities. The main results of this study show that facilities located in communities with high population density, high income, and high educational attainment have a higher likelihood of relocating; they are also observed to relocate into communities with low population density, low income, and low educational attainment on average. The next two studies examine the environmental performance of facilities. The second study examines the performance of facilities that relocated. The third study examines the performance of facilities that decided to stay at their existing location. The main results of these two studies show that both facilities that moved to other communities and facilities that stayed in original communities choose emission levels based on the characteristics of their locations; they are found to generate more emissions in communities with a low socio-economic status. The fourth study switches to the new facilities born after the TRI and examines whether their location choice and post-siting performance are also affected by the socio-economic characteristics of communities. This study shows that new facilities prefer entering communities with low population density and low educational attainment; facilities making this choice are also associated with high emission levels after siting. This study also shows that income and race of communities are not good at explaining the location choice and the post-siting emission levels of facilities after the economic factors are controlled for. The findings from this dissertation help to explain the source of environmental injustice from the behavior of polluting facilities through their location choice and environmental performance after an information disclosure. The findings suggest a distributional impact analysis on the environmental disclosure programs to protect the socio-economically disadvantaged communities, especially the less educated ones.
Issue Date:2019-11-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Xiao Wang
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-03-02
Date Deposited:2019-12

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