US communities often experience economic hardship with plant or business closings contributing to high unemployment rates. In this circumstance, communities and local governments may prioritize economic recovery over environmental improvement, thereby weakening community and government pressure against polluting plants. In an attempt to explore the concern, this study examines the impact of local economic downturn on nearby chemical plants’ toxic release reduction behavior. A total of 351 plants in Upstate New York and their toxic release inventory data were analyzed for 5 years (2006–2010). The results show plants’ toxic release reduction efforts were reduced when unemployment and plant closing rates were high. Therefore, the findings highlight a possible limitation to regulatory approaches that rely on public pressure to motivate better environmental performance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Economics and Econometrics
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law