Economists Receive Funding for Corporate Toxics Information Project
Professor James Boyce, (economics department and the Political Economy Research Institute [PERI]) and Associate Professor Michael Ash (economics, Center for Public Policy and Administration) are recipients of a $75,000 grant from the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation for the Corporate Toxics Information Project. Under the auspices of PERI, the project develops and disseminates analysis of corporate releases of toxic chemicals and the resulting exposures of communities to pollution hazards.
The project will produce rankings that rate corporate performance in terms of the total amount and toxicity of chemical releases; the resulting pollution burdens, taking into account the number of people impacted; and the extent to which these burdens fall disproportionately on low-income communities and people of color.
It also will produce and disseminate regional reports on specific states, regions, and metropolitan areas, responding to requests from groups conducting research, education, and advocacy to reduce environmental and health risks in specific regions. These reports will identify top corporations, top facilities, top chemicals, and the most impacted communities. In addition, industry reports will document corporate performance in key industrial sectors (such as the energy, petroleum, and chemical industries), ranking corporations and facilities within those sectors.
A fourth goal is to develop a searchable data/mapping website that will allow users to identify corporations and facilities whose toxic releases impact specific localities, the quantities of chemicals they release, their relative toxicity, and the demographic characteristics of the populations exposed. This will be a valuable tool for community members and policymakers seeking to pinpoint health risks in a particular location, and for researchers studying the links between environmental contamination and human health.
Boyce, who received his PhD in economics from Oxford University, is author of The Political Economy of the Environment (Edward Elgar, 2002) and Investing in Peace: Aid and Conditionality After Civil Wars (Oxford University Press, 2002). He also is co-editor of Natural Assets: Democratizing Environmental Ownership (with Barry Shelley, Island Press, 2003) and editor of Economic Policy for Building Peace: The Lessons of El Salvador (Lynne Rienner 1996). Boyce's work focuses on strategies for combining poverty reduction with environmental protection, and on the relationship between economic policies and issues of war and peace.
Ash, a cum laude graduate of Princeton University, received his PhD from University of California, Berkeley. Working in labor economics and applied econometrics, he is interested in examining changes in health care labor markets driven by recent changes in the organization and finance of U.S. health care. He is extending these studies to consider health outcomes as well. He combines an interest in policy with the study of economics. Formerly, he was a Princeton Project 55 Fellow at the Trenton (N.J.) Office of Policy Studies and a labor staff economist for the Council of Economic Advisers.
The environment is the principal focus of the Rasmussen Foundation. Since 1991 the Foundation has allocated approximately more than $65 million—about 75% of its total funding—to strengthen environmental research and education, and to further the involvement of an informed public in environmental decision making. Recipients have included universities such as Harvard, MIT and Columbia.
April 4, 2006