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Press and Leaks: Do Newspapers Reduce Toxic Emissions?

by Campa, Pamela

This paper investigates whether media presence affects corporate environmental decisions. Using data on plant-level toxic emissions in 1996-2009 from the US Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory and newly collected data on newspapers locations and content, I find that an increase in the number of newspapers near a plant raises the press coverage of the plant's toxic emissions and reduces the amount of these emissions. The effect of newspapers on toxic emissions is specific to industries that produce consumer goods, and is larger in counties that were subject to extreme levels of cancer incidence in the recent past.

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