Inequities in Enforcement? Environmental Justice and Government Performance

David Konisky, University of Missouri, Columbia
Publication Date:
Jan 2008
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

This paper examines whether state governments perform systematically less environmental enforcement of facilities in communities with higher minority and low-income populations. Although this is an important claim made by environmental justice advocates, it has received little attention in the scholarly literature. Specifically, I analyze state regulatory enforcement of three U.S. pollution control laws—the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act—over the period 1985–2000. To test for disparities in enforcement, I estimate a series of count models and find strong evidence across each of the three environmental laws that states perform less enforcement in poor counties, but little evidence of race-based inequities. © 2009 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.


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