Paying for Permanence: An Economic Analysis of EPA's Cleanup Decisions at Superfund Sites

Shreekant Gupta, George van Houtven and Maureen Cropper, The RAND Journal of Economics 27(3), 563-582, .


We analyze EPA's cleanup decisions at over 100 Superfund sites and examine whether and how EPA trades off the cost against the permanence of cleanup. EPA's decisions reveal both a preference for permanent solutions and an aversion to cost. For example, EPA prefers incinerating soils to isolating and containing them in place, but not at any price. At larger sites EPA appears willing to accept additional costs of as much as $40 million to incinerate. With regard to environmental equity, wejind little evidence that EPA's cost-permanence tradeoff is affected by socioeconomic characteristics in the communities surrounding sites. 

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