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The Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy

Edited by Ysé Serret and Nick Johnstone

This publication is a milestone in the analysis of the distributional impacts of environmental policy, building upon existing literature to simultaneously examine disparities in the distribution of environmental impacts and in the distribution of financial effects amongst households.
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Chapter 7: Environmental Equity and the Siting of Hazardous Waste Facilities in OECD Countries

James T. Hamilton


James T. Hamilton 1. INTRODUCTION Measuring environmental equity entails as many challenges as defining it. Pearce (Chapter 2) reveals how economics can be used to explain and evaluate the distribution of environmental quality across socio-economic groups. This chapter looks at a particular type of environmental hazard, the siting of hazardous waste facilities, from the perspective of environmental equity. Section 1 reviews the nature of the data available, the methodologies of analysis used, and the comparability of studies within and across OECD countries. Section 2 reviews and discusses the studies of hazardous waste facilities and focuses in particular on the distribution of potential risks by demographic group, including different income groups. Section 3 discusses the determinants of disparities in exposure. Section 4 reviews the policy actions taken to address the disparities in the distribution of exposure to environmental impacts from hazardous waste facilities. Though the majority of the studies analysed in each section focus on the United States, the available research published in English from other OECD countries is included in each part of the analysis. Conclusions about the distribution of risks from hazardous waste facilities depend in part on how these hazards are defined. Studies of facility siting, operation and clean-up indicate that the greatest hazards appear to be distributed in some countries as if the environment were a normal good. Risks are greater for those with lower incomes. During the 1980s and early 1990s, many of the policies dealing with hazardous waste focused on how to...

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