The net benefits of the battery lifecycle are distributed regressively (Tietenberg and Lewis 2008). Rich people and companies that deal with used batteries receive high incomes. At the same time, people who live close to the areas where battery recycle plants are located, suffer from hard diseases caused by lead that comes out from the batteries. Especially, lead hurts young generation, which faces such problems as slow development, low IQ, stomach aches, nosebleeds, and low attention (Rosenthal 2011). Instead of spending more money on the development of highly standardized recycle plants and minimizing their harmful effects, the United States companies prefer to recycle the batteries in Mexico, where standards are low, and corruption helps to avoid high expenses. Local Mexican people, in most cases, lack money to test the amount of lead in the blood. In the case of plant workers, the level of lead in blood is monitored by doctors hired at some plants, but the results are not shown to the workers. The employees are only sent home for several days to take pills from the bone pain caused by lead (Rosenthal 2011). Overall, the reason for these violations and lawlessness is the capital that the United States companies will lose if they recycle batteries inside their country.
The situation described in the article relates to both environmental justice and economic efficiency. It is much easier to send the batteries to the underdeveloped country, with a lack of proper governmental regulations in this field. Furthermore, local Mexican citizens do not receive the plausible and accurate information regarding the risks of having the battery recycle plants nearby, so they are likely to undervalue the effects. The problem is compounded by illegal import of used batteries, the number of which cannot be calculated and which are recycled without any control. Big amounts of batterys smuggling is aggravated by the existence of highly developed corruption system, engaged in drug dealing, as well as the issue of illegal immigrants that require considerable efforts and regulatory authorities stuff (Rosenthal 2011). The economic reason behind this problem is obvious. Mexican economic situation is much worse than the one in the US. This results in low prices for land rent. Moreover, local citizens usually require less compensation for taking the risk (Tietenberg and Lewis 2008). Corruption plays into U.S. companies hands. It is much easier to bribe official authorities in Mexico than to carry the technological process fairly.
The U.S. policy response to environmental justice is not adequate for the situation described in the article. The United States is one of the most developed countries with high population and, as a result, the consumption of batteries is very high, especially compared to Mexico. Instead of developing efficient recycling technologies, America prefers to use the opportunity of cheap recycling of the neighbor (Rosenthal 2011). The U.S. companies should take the responsibility for the harm caused to Mexico, as they are the only reason for it. The U.S. government needs to develop new policies and laws that will control and limit the amount of used batteries exported to Mexico. Recycling plants in Mexico owned by the U.S. companies should be built according to the high U.S. standards. Furthermore, the problem of smuggling should also be controlled by both Mexican and U.S. authorities. Additionally, The U.S. should provide the reliable information for Mexican people so that they could adequately evaluate all the risks. Finally, it would be perfect if the U.S. could provide medical help for people who have the symptoms of high level of lead in the blood.