Are Republicans Bad for the Environment?

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Does the partisanship of officeholders affect environmental outcomes? The popular perception is that Republicans are bad for the environment, but complicating factors like federalism may limit this outcome. Using a dataset that tracks toxic releases over 20 years, we examine how partisan control of executive and legislative branches at both state and federal levels affect environmental policy. Moving beyond the passage of policies or environmental program spending allows us to fully understand the impact of Republicans on the environment. In addition, we take into account structural complications that may shape the relationship between Republican control and environmental outcomes. We find that the conventional wisdom that Republicans are bad for the environment has some validity, but it is dependent on what offices Republican elected officials occupy. More specifically, Republicans significantly affect toxic chemical releases when occupying governorships and controlling Congress. Our conclusions provide further insight into understanding how partisanship affects environmental outcomes, including how partisanship composition across the federal system matters.