Jan Mazurek examines the environmental and ecomic implications of the computer microchip industry's exodus from California's Silicon Valley to New Mexico, Virginia, Ireland and Taiwan. Globalization, ecomic restructuring and changing manufacturing processes in this rapidly growing industry present difficult new questions for environmental policy. Mazurek challenges the assumptions of US policies designed to promote the competitiveness of domestic microchip makers, arguing that these initiatives fail to ackwledge how ecomic and organizational changes within the industry collide with and often confound efforts to monitor and manage pollution from chemicals used in microchip manufacturing. The text describes the environmental by-products of chipmaking, including soil contamination, air and water pollution, and damage to human health. Applying insights from ecomic geography to questions of how and where companies organize production, the author demonstrates how Silicon Valley played a pivotal role in the development of the microchip. Pairing federal environmental data with structural and geographic information on the six firms that continue to build water fabs in the United States, Mazurek argues that reorganization and relocation of manufacturing facilities divert attention from trends in toxic emissions and how they complicate public and private efforts to improve the industry's environmental performance.
Jan Mazurek directs the Center for Innovation and the Environment at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, DC.