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Racial Demographics and Environmental Auditing in
the USA

One mandate of the US Environmental Protection Agency is to use its legal authority to promote and ensure environmental justice. This paper investigates to what extent this has been the case in the recent past.

Joint work with Anca Balietti

Our analysis draws on a comprehensive dataset that links auditing information from all environmentally relevant plants across the USA over 2000 - 2018 to county-level demographic and ethnic yearly information. We study whether changes in the racial composition of US counties are followed by adjustments in the volume of air quality inspections to polluting plants.

We find robust evidence that the share of inspected plants within a county decreases following an increase in the share of the non-White population. This coincides with higher air pollution levels and an increased rate of nonattainment designations.

Download the most recent version of our working paper here:

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