Urban and Industrial Environments
Policy, Globalization, and Economic Restructuring in the Semiconductor Industry
261 pp., 6 x 9 in, 5 illus.
- Published: December 7, 1998
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: January 24, 2003
- Publisher: The MIT Press
An examination of the environmental and economic implications of the computer microchip industry's exodus from California's Silicon Valley to New Mexico, Virginia, Ireland, and Taiwan.
In Making Microchips, Jan Mazurek examines the environmental and economic implications of the computer microchip industry's exodus from California's Silicon Valley to New Mexico, Virginia, Ireland, and Taiwan. Globalization, economic restructuring, and changing manufacturing processes in this rapidly growing industry present difficult new questions for environmental policy. Mazurek challenges the assumptions of U.S. policies designed to promote the competitiveness of domestic microchip makers. She argues that, although these initiatives focus on the economic effects of environmental regulation, they fail to acknowledge how economic and organizational changes within the industry collide with and often confound efforts to monitor and manage pollution from chemicals used in microchip manufacturing.
Despite its reputation as a clean industry, microchip manufacturing is fraught with hazards. More than sixty dangerous acids, solvents, caustics, and gases are used to make microchips, and some of them are suspected to be carcinogens and/or reproductive toxins. Mazurek describes the environmental by-products of chipmaking, including soil contamination, air and water pollution, and damage to human health. Applying insights from economic geography to questions of how and where companies organize production, she shows 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 wafer fabrication plants in the United States, she demonstrates how 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. In the concluding chapter, Mazurek marshals her findings in a broader analysis of the expansion of global manufacturing and the resultant environmental problems.
A timely study of how current regulations and initiatives are addressing environmental concerns in the semiconductor industry.
Computer Business Review
The author documents the extent of and the rationale for the vast and unprecedented growth of the microchip industry and has identified several important environmental policcy implications associated with this phenomenon. Her description and analysis of the growth and expansion of global manufacturing are thorough and informative and her overview of the existing environmental problems as well as her discussion of current and future environmental challenges are well-done. Finally, the author's relating of high-tech manufacturing expansion—both domestically and internationally—to environmental impacts and policy considerations is novel as well as important and her scholarship is extensive, thorough, and sound.
Ted Smith, Executive Director, Silicon Valley toxics Coalition
Mazurek provides a systemic view of an industry that is moving faster, geographically and technologically, than existing governance systems. The result is a trend toward dubious corporate self-regulation schemes. This is an essential read for policymakers and citizen activists who will need to hold the chip makers accountable for pollution and sustainable jobs.
Sanford Lewis, director, The Good Neighbor Project for Sustainable Industries
Jan Mazurek has written an interesting and provocative work which provides great insight into the future of the environment and the economy.
Terry Davies, Director, Center for Risk Management, Resources for the Future