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State Hazardous and Solid Waste Taxes: Understanding Their Variability

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Paper Number: 2009-01

Document Date: 06/12/2009

Authors: Kelly B. Maguire Robin R. Jenkins

Subject Areas: Solid Waste; Hazardous Waste; Distributional Effects

Keywords: hazardous waste; municipal solid waste; state waste taxes; environmental justice

Abstract: There is substantial evidence that hazardous and solid waste facilities are located disproportionately in communities of color. While there are many potential explanations, one contributing factor might be that policy makers treat waste facilities differently, depending on the racial makeup of the facilities’ host communities. On a larger scale, policies targeted at waste facilities might also vary according to the racial make-up of entire constituencies (not just of host communities). This paper examines hazardous and solid waste taxes set by state governments and how those taxes vary according to the racial consistency of the entire state as well as within communities located inside a 3 kilometer radius of waste facilities. We also pose a set of alternative explanations for the variability in state waste taxes, including the extent of negative externalities, inter-jurisdictional competition, revenue-seeking behavior and the interplay between state and local governments. We find no evidence that policy makers consider the racial makeup of the community immediately surrounding the waste facilities when setting taxes. We do, however, find that the percent of the population in the state that is Black varies negatively with the tax rates even after controlling for income levels and voting behavior. Other important determinants of waste taxes are the percent of the state that votes, other state taxes, and inter-jurisdictional competition

Attachment: 2009-01.pdf (182K, About PDF)

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