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date: 31 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines whether poor and minority groups are “exposed to disproportionately higher levels of environmental hazards.” Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Census Bureau is used to test whether the demographic characteristics of the community surrounding manufacturing plants located within 50 miles of four major cities (Los Angeles, Boston, Columbus, and Houston) influence the number of regulatory actions against the plants or the amount of harmful pollutants emitted from the plants. There is little evidence that regulatory activity is less intense in plants located near disadvantaged demographic groups. Plants located in minority neighborhoods, however, are inspected less often and face fewer enforcement actions, but these effects are nearly always insignificant, and plants located in lower-income areas seem to face more regulatory activity. Thus, there is little or no evidence for an environmental justice effect on the regulatory activity related to air pollution, as directed toward these plants.

Keywords: poverty, minorities, environmental hazards, environmental regulation, manufacturing plants, regulatory actions, regulatory activity

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