Objective. This article examines claims made by environmental justice advocates that government inequitably enforces environmental laws.
Methods. We test for race- and class-based disparities in the regulatory enforcement of the U.S. Clean Water Act from 2000–2005. We estimate pooled logistic regression models, and the analysis is conducted at the facility-level using an areal apportionment methodology to measure the composition of populations living near facilities.
Results. We find evidence of modest race- and class-based disparities in both government inspections and punitive actions taken in response to noncompliant behavior, although the pattern of these disparities depends on model specification.
Conclusions. Our findings provide some evidence of disparities in government enforcement of the federal Clean Water Act, lending support to the general claims made by environmental justice advocates.