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The Distributional and Equity Consequences of Environmental Policies

Low-income and minority communities experience the highest burden of environmental damages and pollution exposure in many settings around the world. By targeting polluting processes and altering the spatial distribution of pollution, environmental policies may have environmental justice consequences. This talk explores some of the sources of environmental injustice and the equity consequences of environmental policy in the context of two studies. The first study examines how incomplete regulation affects the spatial distribution of pollution and who bears its burden. Leveraging a policy intended to reduce pollution from sugar mills, I show that regulated facilities shifted sugar processing to the fields where sugarcane is grown, increasing pollution levels in disadvantaged communities. These results highlight a previously undiscussed implication of incomplete pollution regulation: its distributional consequences. The second study examines the environmental justice consequences of California’s carbon market. This paper shows that the program lowered average GHG, PM2.5, PM10, and NOx emissions for sample facilities. In addition, leveraging a pollution transport model to characterize resulting spatial pollution concentration changes, we find that the program caused pollution disparities to narrow.

Speaker: Danae Hernandez Cortes, Arizona State University

Monday, 02/06/23


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Giannini Hall

UC Berkeley
Room 241
Berkeley, CA 94720