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Book part
Publication date: 10 August 2018

Rachelle C. Sampson and Y. Maggie Zhou

We examine the effect of firm ownership status on three environmentally relevant variables: energy efficiency, toxic emissions, and spending on pollution abatement. Prior…

Abstract

We examine the effect of firm ownership status on three environmentally relevant variables: energy efficiency, toxic emissions, and spending on pollution abatement. Prior research has demonstrated that public firms invest less than private firms and suggests this difference is due pressure from investors to strongly favor short over long-term earnings. We extend this logic to other firm behavior, examining whether publicly owned facilities invest in energy efficiency and pollution reduction differently than privately owned facilities. Using data from the US Census of Manufactures from 1980 to 2009, information on pollution from the Environmental Protection Agency Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) and pollution abatement spending from the Pollution Abatement Costs and Expenditures survey, we find that facilities switching to public ownership are less energy efficient and spend less on pollution abatement than their privately owned counterparts. However, we also find that facilities switching to public ownership have lower toxic emissions than other facilities. We also examine how different sources of external pressures alter these results and find that increased regulatory scrutiny is correlated with increased energy efficiency, toxic emissions, and abatement spending. More concentrated institutional ownership in public firms is associated with lower energy efficiency as is a greater brand focus. These latter results are broadly consistent with the idea that publicly owned firms respond to pressures from investors with a reduced focus on environmentally relevant variables. However, since facilities switching to public ownership have lower toxic emissions, this suggests that there are two competing pressures in publicly owned facilities: cost pressures, consistent with lowered energy efficiency, and public perceptions, consistent with lower toxic emissions, particularly since TRI data became available. In this sense, the combination of ownership and transparency of information appears to influence how firms prioritize different stakeholders.

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Sustainability, Stakeholder Governance, and Corporate Social Responsibility
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-316-2

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2017

Li Sun

This study aims to examine the impact of managerial ability on the total amount of chemical releases reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) at the US Environmental…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the impact of managerial ability on the total amount of chemical releases reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) at the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Design/methodology/approach

Regression analysis is used to examine the association between managerial ability and chemical releases.

Findings

A negative relationship was found between managerial ability and TRI’s chemical releases, suggesting that more-able managers better reduce TRI’s chemical releases, relative to less-able managers.

Practical implications

By providing useful insights into what determines TRI’s chemical releases, this study should interest policy makers and practitioners.

Originality/value

This study contributes to and links two research schools: managerial ability in management literature and corporate social responsibility (i.e. pollution prevention) in the broad business literature. To the best of the author’s knowledge, this is the first empirical study that performs a direct test of the association between managerial ability and TRI’s toxic chemical releases.

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Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Book part
Publication date: 6 September 2010

Shalini P. Vajjhala

Purpose – State and national environmental justice (EJ) programs have expanded in recent years to address new risks and challenges. Several programs including the…

Abstract

Purpose – State and national environmental justice (EJ) programs have expanded in recent years to address new risks and challenges. Several programs including the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Environmental Justice Small Grants (EJSG) program have helped to facilitate this growth. Since 1994, more than 1,000 small grants have been awarded through the EJSG to support communities in developing solutions to local environmental and public health problems. This chapter evaluates the collective impact of these investments.

Design/methodology/approach – Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map the locations of EJSG funds relative to data from the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), this chapter addresses two main questions. First, are grants being awarded to the types of communities (low-income, minority areas facing major environmental hazards) intended to be served by the program? Second, have there been any significant environmental changes in EJSG areas since the start of the program?

Findings – Results of county-level spatial analysis reveal that EJ grants are only in part being awarded to minority or low-income counties facing higher than the national average TRI releases and that average toxic releases have increased significantly in EJSG counties in some EPA regions relative to non-EJSG counties.

Originality/value – These results and the novel application of mapping methods to tracking small grants allocations highlight the need for systematic EJ program evaluation and coordination.

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Environment and Social Justice: An International Perspective
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-183-2

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Book part
Publication date: 16 October 2014

Yu Cong, Martin Freedman and Jin Dong Park

In 2009, Newsweek published a report in which they ranked the 500 largest US companies and the 100 largest global companies based on its environmental performance measures…

Abstract

In 2009, Newsweek published a report in which they ranked the 500 largest US companies and the 100 largest global companies based on its environmental performance measures (http://greenrankings2009.newsweek.com/). This ranking is referred to as Newsweek’s Green Ranking. Included in this ranking is information about water and air pollution, solid waste disposal, toxic wastes, carbon emissions, and enforcement actions. The question we are addressing in this study is how well it measures pollution performance? The question is relevant to environmental accounting/reporting since it is part of a dilemma yet to be answered: Aggregated environmental indices/scores are easy for average information users to percept, while specific information may not be preserved when it is aggregated into the overall score(s).

Specifically, we examine whether Newsweek’s Green Ranking is correlated with pollution measures based on Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) in order to determine how valid or reliable Newsweek’s Green Ranking is – in other words, how much Newsweek’s Green Ranking can explain the pollution by the toxic releases. We find that there is no significant correlation between Newsweek’s Green Ranking and the TRI measures except for the firms in the utilities industry. Concluding that on one measure, which we consider a very important one, there is no justification for the overall Green Ranking Score presented by Newsweek. However, in Newsweek’s three-part score the element that is termed the Environmental Impact Score captures pollution performance measured based on TRI. The contrast between the overall ranking and performance ranking indicates that a composite index that incorporates hard performance and soft measures can dilute the information carried by performance data.

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Accounting for the Environment: More Talk and Little Progress
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-303-2

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Article
Publication date: 10 May 2013

Elizabeth Connors, Holly H. Johnston and Lucia S. Gao

The study aims to evaluate the informational value to investors of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) as an external outcome measure of corporate environmental…

Abstract

Purpose

The study aims to evaluate the informational value to investors of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) as an external outcome measure of corporate environmental performance. Emphasis is placed on the market response differences between three highly polluting industries.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses pooled cross‐sectional, time‐series data and an event study methodology to examine the effects of TRI emissions on abnormal market returns.

Findings

There is empirical evidence that market reactions to TRI emissions information vary by industry. Investors reward decreases in emissions in the electric utility industry, but do not penalize increases. In the chemical industry, increases in emissions are penalized, but decreases are not rewarded. Models do not capture any reaction to emissions changes in the pulp and paper industry. These results may be explained by the significant difference between industries in the US percentage of total firm sales.

Research limitations/implications

This research analyzes only data from US firms in three industries and evaluates a single measure of environmental performance, TRI. The value of TRI information is measured for one stakeholder group. Future research should attempt to address these limitations.

Practical implications

The results suggest that research on the effects of environmental performance on market‐based measures should estimate models by industry, whenever possible. From a public policy perspective, the results suggest that regulators may want to consider alternative methods of reducing chemical emissions beyond TRI disclosure in the chemicals and pulp and paper industries.

Originality/value

The study distinguishes between the value of TRI as a “message service” and the content of the “message”. TRI may provide information of value to investors, but performance changes may not be sufficient to merit a price response. The study also specifically addresses industry differences and clearly shows how average coefficients can be misleading relating to this one environmental performance indicator. The use of pooled industry coefficients may lead to inefficient resource allocation decisions within industries and ineffective policies at the regulatory level.

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Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 4 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Book part
Publication date: 23 September 2013

Fahrettin Okcabol

Freedman and Stagliano (2010) study the correlation between sample and matched companies’ revenues and toxic release. The sample companies were chosen based on inclusion…

Abstract

Freedman and Stagliano (2010) study the correlation between sample and matched companies’ revenues and toxic release. The sample companies were chosen based on inclusion in at least one of the three 2006 external reputational sources, which ascertain reputable sustainable companies. Their study uses descriptive statistics for “revenues” and mean difference test results for “toxic release inventory that is divided by revenues” of sample versus matched companies. The authors conclude, “We find no significant difference between the firms that are respected to be engaged in best practices with respect to sustainable development and those that have no such public recognition.” In this critique I suggest a contrary explanation. If one uses a descriptive analysis of the raw data instead of the mean difference test, one may conclude the opposite conclusion. The sample firms have higher revenues and their relevant revenues have lower toxic release inventories than matched firms. Thus, one interpretation is that sample firms were rewarded, by being able to generate more revenues than matched firms, so sample firms appear to be among the leaders in curbing toxic chemical waste.

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Managing Reality: Accountability and the Miasma of Private and Public Domains
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-618-8

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2004

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Circuit World, vol. 30 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0305-6120

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1995

Each of the agencies participating in GCDIS will play a role appropriate to its agency mission and consistent with the funds available to it. Descriptions of each agency's…

Abstract

Each of the agencies participating in GCDIS will play a role appropriate to its agency mission and consistent with the funds available to it. Descriptions of each agency's resources follow. Each agency will implement the GCDIS at its own pace.

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Library Hi Tech, vol. 13 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

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Article
Publication date: 26 October 2020

Md. Hafij Ullah, James Hazelton and Peter F Nelson

This paper furthers research into the potential contribution of pollutant databases for corporate accountability. We evaluate the quality of corporate and government…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper furthers research into the potential contribution of pollutant databases for corporate accountability. We evaluate the quality of corporate and government mercury reporting via the Australian National Pollutant Inventory (NPI), which underpins Australia's reporting under the Minamata Convention, a global agreement to reduce mercury pollution.

Design/methodology/approach

The qualitative characteristics of accounting information are used as a theoretical frame to analyse ten interviews with thirteen interviewees as well as 54 submissions to the 2018 governmental enquiry into the NPI.

Findings

While Australian mercury accounting using the NPI is likely sufficient to meet the expected Minamata reporting requirements (especially in comparison to developing countries), we find significant limitations in relation to comparability, accuracy, timeliness and completeness. These limitations primarily relate to government (as opposed to industry) deficiencies, caused by insufficient funding. The findings suggest that multiple factors are required to realise the potential of pollutant databases for corporate accountability, including appropriate rules, ideological commitment and resourcing

Practical implications

The provision of additional funding would enable the NPI to be considerably improved (for mercury as well as other pollutants), particularly in relation to the measurement and reporting of emissions from diffuse sources.

Originality/value

Whilst there have been prior reviews of the NPI, none have focused on mercury, whilst conversely prior studies which have discussed mercury information have not focused on the NPI. In addition, no prior NPI studies have utilised interviews nor have engaged directly with NPI regulators. There has been little prior engagement with pollutant databases in social and environmental accounting (SEA) research.

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Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 11 August 2014

Frank M. Howell, William R. Freudenburg (deceased) and Gregory A. Works

Much of the environmental sociology literature calls for economic development to lead to environmental destruction, but growing bodies of work on “ecological…

Abstract

Much of the environmental sociology literature calls for economic development to lead to environmental destruction, but growing bodies of work on “ecological modernization” and “environmental Kuznets curves” (EKCs) argue that, beyond a certain point, socioeconomic development can lead to environmental improvement. A third hypothesis (Boyce) argues that inequality may be more relevant than levels of prosperity. Published findings have been sufficiently mixed to warrant more detailed analyses. This chapter considers both cross-sectional and two-wave panel data and the three competing expectations, considering air emissions and toxic manufacturing releases for U.S. counties. Air emissions tend to correlate positively with economic prosperity, supporting the “core” environmental sociology hypothesis, while toxic emissions show greater support for the EKC/ecological modernization hypothesis. The most consistent theoretical support is found among indicators of inequality and power that support the Boyce hypothesis. The findings suggest implications for policy as well as for future research.

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William R. Freudenburg, A Life in Social Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-734-4

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