ERG Colloquium - Danae Hernandez Cortes

Monday, February 06, 2023

Low-income and minority communities experience the highest burden of environmental damages and pollution exposure in many settings around the world. By targeting polluting processes and altering the spatial distribution of pollution, environmental policies may have environmental justice consequences. This talk explores some of the sources of environmental injustice and the equity consequences of environmental policy in the context of two studies. The first study examines how incomplete regulation affects the spatial distribution of pollution and who bears its burden. Leveraging a policy intended to reduce pollution from sugar mills, I show that regulated facilities shifted sugar processing to the fields where sugarcane is grown, increasing pollution levels in disadvantaged communities. These results highlight a previously undiscussed implication of incomplete pollution regulation: its distributional consequences. The second study examines the environmental justice consequences of California’s carbon market. This paper shows that the program lowered average GHG, PM2.5, PM10, and NOx emissions for sample facilities. In addition, leveraging a pollution transport model to characterize resulting spatial pollution concentration changes, we find that the program caused pollution disparities to narrow.

Danae is an Assistant Professor at the School of Sustainability and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society in Arizona State University and a Research Affiliate at emLab in the University of California, Santa Barbara. Danae's research studies the distributional consequences of environmental policy and environmental justice. Her work uses applied causal inference methods with remote sensing techniques and atmospheric transport models to analyze the environmental justice consequences of environmental policy. Before joining ASU, she obtained her Ph.D. in Economics with an emphasis on environmental science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.