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Working Paper: Regulatory Impact Analyses of Environmental Justice Effects

Paper Number: 2010-08

Document Date: 08/2010

Author(s): H. Spencer Banzhaf

Subject Area(s): Benefit-Cost Analysis; Distributional Effects

Keywords: environmental justice; benefit-cost analysis; disperse pollutants

Abstract: Finding an appropriate way to incorporate environmental justice considerations into policy-making has been a procedural challenge since President Clinton issued Executive Order 12,898 over 15 years ago. Moreover, environmental justice continues to be overshadowed by efficiency considerations as embodied in benefit-cost analysis. This article argues that the environmental justice and benefit-cost policies and procedures in EPA's rule-making can both be improved by bringing them closer together, ultimately improving environmental regulations as well. In particular, environmental justice consideration should be incorporated into Regulatory Impact Analyses (RIAs) by drawing on the much older tradition of incorporating distributional effects into benefit-cost analysis.

By providing information on the distribution of benefits and costs of its regulatory actions, EPA would further its environmental justice objectives by providing the information that all groups—including the poor, minorities, and environmental justice communities—need to understand the impacts of a regulatory action. By incorporating such information into its RIAs, EPA would integrate environmental justice considerations into its development of regulations. Finally, by actually allowing the new information to inform the design and selection of regulations so as to better protect disadvantaged groups, adding distributional impacts to RIAs would improve the distributive justice associated with EPA's actions as well as the procedural justice.

Published: Banzhaf, H. Spencer. 2011. “Regulatory Impact Analyses of Environmental Justice Effects,” Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law 27(1): 1-30.

This paper is part of the Environmental Economics Working Paper Series.

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