This study examines the spillover effect of environmental enforcement through private lending networks. Financial lending institutions face growing public and regulatory pressures to manage and reduce environmental risks relating to their lending activities and therefore are motivated to monitor corporate borrowers’ environmental practices. We find evidence indicating that when one borrower experiences an enforcement action targeted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), other firms sharing the common lender reduce toxic emissions in the following years. This spillover effect is more pronounced for lenders with stronger monitoring incentives and abilities and for borrowers with greater environmental pressures and larger similarities to EPA-targeted firms. Further analyses show increased abatement efforts and decreased profit margins following the enforcement shocks spread through lending networks. Taken together, these findings suggest that lenders can learn from and respond to borrowers’ EPA enforcement actions when dealing with other borrowers that pose similar environmental risks.
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