The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Program awards grants to redevelop contaminated lands known as brownfields. This paper estimates cleanup benefits based on a nationally representative sample of brownfields using a variety of quasi-experimental techniques. To our knowledge, this is the first paper that combines non-public EPA administrative records with high-resolution, high-frequency housing data to estimate the effects of brownfield cleanup across the entire federal Brownfields Program. We find increases in property values accompanying cleanup, ranging from 4.9% to 11.1%; for a welfare interpretation that does not rely on the intertemporal stability of the hedonic price function, a double- difference matching estimator finds even larger effects of up to 32.2%. Our various specifications lead to the common conclusion that Brownfields Program cleanups yield a positive, statistically significant, but highly-localized effect on housing prices.
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
NBER Working Paper No. 20296; Issued in July 2014