Working Paper No. 11-02

Regional Heterogeneity in Preferences for Environmental Regulation and the Effect of Pro-environment Voting on Toxic Emissions
Matthew H. Benton
March 2011


In this paper, I use county-level measures of pro-environment voting from the U.S. House of Representatives as a proxy for regional heterogeneity in preferences of citizens for more or less regulation in order to estimate their effect on toxic air emissions at a local level. Even though constructing county-level voting scores from congressional district scores requires a degree of approximation in counties that lie partially in multiple districts, the fact that county lines do not change with the decennial Census allows for measures of emissions activity in specific locations over time when using panel data spanning more than ten years. The results suggest that allowing for regional heterogeneity in preferences at the county level can explain within-state variation in toxic emissions where state-level aggregates fail to identify such a relationship.

JEL classification: Q53; Q58
Keywords: League of Conservation Voters; Toxics Release Inventory; Regulation