Understanding the Persistence of the Tropospheric Ozone Problem in the U.S.: Is Ozone a Pollutant for the Rich?

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Tropospheric (ground level) ozone continues to be a problem in many U.S. metropolitan areas. Unlike other constituent pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act ozone is odorless and tasteless and can only be perceived by the naked eye at high enough concentrations to be considered "smog." This analysis explores reasons why after 30 years of regulatory effort some metropolitan areas still fail to attain federally mandated standards. I consider both sources of supply of ozone and the role of technological innovation in reducing ozone levels as well as socioeconomic trends that drive demand for services and amenities that contribute to the ozone problem. A class of Producer Services is highly correlated with ozone levels and this relationship provides insight into the complex socioeconomic drivers of the ozone problems. The Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) is a useful framework employed to understand the trajectory of ozone levels. While ambient levels of the pollutant have declined significantly, I show evidence that ozone is not perceived as a sufficient "disamenity," even at the highest income levels, to drive further reductions. I hypothesize that the status quo is likely to persist in the absence of a new regulatory approach and suggest a modified EKC that might inform future discussions. Methodological and spatial data issues are also discussed with special focus on those problems found when using both socioeconomic and environmental data. Kriging and cluster analysis are investigated and I suggest these methods as promising directions to improve quantitative methods available to social scientists interested in the interaction between the economy and environmental systems.
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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency?s National Network of Environmental Management Studies program and Teresa Heinz Fellowship for Environmental Scholars
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air quality regulations; ozone pollution; economic growth; ozone regulation; environmental planning
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Government Document
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dissertation or thesis
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