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Environmental Economics Seminar: The Accuracy of Self-Reported Pollution Data: Evidence from the Clean Water Act

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Date(s): April 10, 2012, 1:30 - 3:00 PM

Location: Room 4128, EPA West Building, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC

Contact: Carl Pasurka, 202-566-2275

Presenter: Jay Shimshack (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

Description: Most major pollution regulations rely on self-reported emissions data. This paper uses extensive U.S. water pollution discharges data to examine the accuracy of environmental self-monitoring. We apply Benford’s Law to seek statistical signatures of reporting anomalies. We seek statistical signatures of misreporting by exploiting the timing of external inspections. We explore the relationship between Clean Water Act self-reported water pollution discharges and ambient water quality data from the U.S.G.S. Preliminary results fail to uncover strong evidence of strategic misreporting.

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