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The Determinants of Hazardous Waste Siting
Jemison, Kimberly Celeste
Doctoral Committee Chair(s)
Department of Study
Degree Granting Institution
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies
Environmental justice and environmental racism issues have become increasingly important as minority and low income communities perceive theirs to be the hosts of a disproportionate number of hazardous waste sites and hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF) owners and operators have come under attack due to allegations of racial discrimination in the siting of said facilities. The preponderance of studies of environmental justice focuses on the current community conditions rather than examining conditions at the time of site selection. Furthermore, much of the analysis has not been grounded in economic theory. This paper tests the hypothesis of discrimination in the siting of facilities by integrating location theory, the economic theory of discrimination and the literature on the role of compensation in facility siting to explain the initial site selection process of commercial TSDFs. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regions 4 and 5 county level data was used from 1970, 1980, and 1990 in the analysis. Results suggest that the significance of race depends on the explanatory model used in the analysis and on the census period. Race was found to be significant in models which only included socioeconomic variables but not in models which included location factors for 1970 and 1980. Results from 1990, however, generally support the allegations of discriminatory siting practices. Region 5 results (but not Region 4) also support the allegations of discriminatory siting practices. The results of this research have not definitively eliminated the possibility of discriminatory practices in TSD facility siting but they have undermined the basic tenet of the environmental racism/justice movement: that facility siting is discriminatory. Across time periods, overall results yield conflicting conclusions on the assertions of racial discrimination in facility siting. Regional results similarly yield different conclusions across time and across regions. However, univariate and multivariate results do suggest that poor communities are not targets for facilities. The results of this study can be used by both communities affected by TSDF emissions and TSDF owners and operators in the resolution of this conflict.