Graduation Year

2018

Date of Submission

12-2018

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Economics

Reader 1

Mary Evans

Rights Information

2018 Alexander S Brussell

Abstract

Although the prevailing viewpoint claims that corporate profitability and environmental regulation are directly at odds, there is a growing base of evidence suggesting that low-carbon companies gain a strategic advantage over dirtier competitors by lobbying for more stringent climate regulations. This paper extends previous analyses of corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and lobbying using toxic releases as a measure of environmental performance to assess the assertion that both clean and dirty firms disproportionately lobby on environmental policies. In my analysis, I find that the same relationship previously found using GHG emissions as a measure of corporate environmental performance holds with toxic releases when examining only the three most widely represented industries in my data—Major Chemical, Power Generation, and Energy Utilities. When combined with findings of a negative linear correlation between firms’ toxic releases and lobbying expenditures using the same sample, my results suggest that clean firms in these industries not only lobby frequently on environmental policies—they actually do so more aggressively than their dirtier competitors. While I deduce that these results are caused by clean firms lobbying for stricter environmental regulations that impose costly compliance costs on dirty competitors, it is evident that my data do not specify if firms are lobbying for or against more stringent regulations or what the implications of those lobbied policies would entail. This inability to distinguish firms’ underlying motivations for lobbying is a fundamental shortcoming of my analysis.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.

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