Nav: Home

Air polluters more likely to locate near downwind state borders

January 17, 2017

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University research reveals a pattern of companies strategically locating facilities where wind will carry pollution across state lines.

Locating factories and power plants near downwind borders can allow states to reap the benefits of jobs and tax revenue but share the negative effects -- air pollution -- with neighbors.

"When you look at the location of major sources of air pollution, they are more likely to be nearer to downwind state borders, when compared to similar industrial facilities," said David Konisky, associate professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Bloomington.

The study compares 16,211 facilities in the United States that produce air pollution with 20,536 sites that produce hazardous waste but not air pollution. Using a technique called point pattern analysis, they show that facilities that produce air pollution are more likely to be near downwind state borders than those that produce other types of waste. A polluter is 22 percent less likely to be near an upwind state border than near a downwind state border, after adjusting for other variables.

The trend is especially pronounced for large facilities that emit toxic air emissions, those that are included in the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory program.

States have long complained about air pollution from their neighbors. The Clean Air Act was designed to address the problem by setting uniform pollution standards. But under the U.S. system of federalism, enforcement of the regulations falls largely to the states, which may have less interest in regulating facilities that produce air pollution that crosses state boundaries. The system lends itself to "free riding," meaning those who benefit from goods or services don't pay the full cost.

Previous research has found that states are not less strict in their enforcement for facilities near downwind borders than for facilities elsewhere. The IU study suggests the discrepancy may come earlier in the process: in the decisions about where the facilities are sited.

The lingering question is whether facility location decisions result from state or local government action or from businesses or institutions that build and operate the facilities. Both have incentives, Konisky said. Governments may want to recruit jobs or protect their constituents from air pollution. Facility operators may wish to avoid "not-in-my-backyard" opposition.

Analysis by the researchers suggests both influences may be at work. Findings show the tendency toward free riding is more pronounced in states with less stringent environmental policy and those with aggressive economic development programs that pursue "smokestack" industries, suggesting state decisions are a factor. But it's also stronger in states with a high density of environmental organizations, suggesting businesses may make location decisions to avoid local opposition.
-end-
The study, "Gone With the Wind: Federalism and the Strategic Location of Air Polluters," was published in the American Journal of Political Science. Other authors are James Monogan, assistant professor of political science at the University of Georgia, and Neal Woods, associate professor of political science at the University of South Carolina.

Indiana University

Related Air Pollution Articles:

Air pollution may disrupt sleep
High levels of air pollution over time may get in the way of a good night's sleep, according to new research presented at the ATS 2017 International Conference.
Smoking out sources of in-home air pollution
An ambitious study led by San Diego State University researchers has investigated various factors that contribute to air pollution inside the house.
Cities need to 'green up' to reduce the impact of air pollution
The harmful impact of urban air pollution could be combated by strategically placing low hedges along roads in a built-up environment of cities instead of taller trees, a new study has found.
Study measures air pollution increase attributable to air conditioning
A new University of Wisconsin-Madison study shows that the electricity production associated with air conditioning causes emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide to increase by hundreds to thousands of metric tons, or 3 to 4 percent per degree Celsius (or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
Air pollution may lead to dementia in older women
Tiny air pollution particles -- the type that mainly comes from power plants and automobiles -- may greatly increase the chance of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
Where is heavy air pollution in Beijing from?
The heavy haze formation in Beijing is depicted as 'initiated by the regional transport mainly from the coal burning in surrounding areas, and intensified by the local secondary formation originated from the motor vehicles.'
Future PM2.5 air pollution over China
There is a long way to go to mitigate future PM2.5 pollution in China based on the emission scenarios.
Salty snow could affect air pollution in the Arctic
In pictures, the Arctic appears pristine and timeless with its barren lands and icy landscape.
Diabetes: Risk factor air pollution
Exposure to air pollution at the place of residence increases the risk of developing insulin resistance as a pre-diabetic state of type 2 diabetes.
Air pollution exposure may worsen lupus in children
The results of a study presented today at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2016) show for the first time that an individual's exposure to air pollution may have a direct role in triggering disease activity as well as airway inflammation in children and adolescents with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Related Air Pollution Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...