Working Paper: Host Community Compensation and Municipal Solid Waste Landfills

Paper Number: 2002-04

Document Date: 08/2012

Author(s): Robin R. Jenkins, Kelly M. Maguire, and Cynthia Morgan

Subject Area(s): Solid Waste; Distributional Effects

Keywords: host compensation; landfills; environmental justice

Abstract: Strong local opposition to the construction of solid waste landfills has become commonplace and the siting of landfills in the United States is time consuming and expensive. To ease the siting process, host compensation in exchange for permission to construct a landfill has become popular. The value and nature of host compensation varies dramatically across communities, but the reasons for this variation are relatively unexplored. We construct a national data set consisting of host fees paid by the 104 largest privately owned solid waste landfills in 1996, along with the characteristics of the landfills and the host communities. Our findings suggest that he direct participation of citizens in host fee negotiations, the community knowledge stemming from having hosted a prior landfill, and the presence of state mandates for minimum host compensation all lead to much greater amounts of host compensation. We find that the bargaining position of the landfill developer is less important, in terms of the magnitude of the effect. However we do find evidence that firms with deeper pockets are more likely to pay higher host fees. We find limited evidence that a community’s race and income level matter after accounting for factors that directly reflect citizen involvement. The analysis also indicates that landfills that accept risky wastes, such as contaminated soil or sludge, and problematic wastes, such as tires pay higher host fees.

This paper is part of the Environmental Economics Working Paper Series.

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