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“Cleansing the air at the expense of waterways?” Empirical evidence from the toxic releases of coal-fired power plants in the United States

Xiang Bi ()

Journal of Regulatory Economics, 2017, vol. 51, issue 1, 18-40

Abstract: Abstract Environmental policies in the United States have primarily taken the form of media-specific regulations that emphasize end-of-pipe pollution control. This can lead to the shifting of pollution across environmental media, thereby having the potential to solve one environmental problem by creating a new problem. This study uses data from 228 coal-fired power plants that report to the Toxics Release Inventory to conduct an empirical examination of the extent to which media-specific regulation has caused power plants to shift their toxic air releases to waterways, land, or transfers for offsite recycling facilities. Controlling for plant-level fixed effects, scale of production, and environmental inspections and enforcement under air regulation, this study finds that adopting tougher air pollution regulation that designates counties as being in nonattainment status with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards significantly increased toxic releases to waterways and land.

Keywords: Regulation; Toxic Releases Inventory (TRI); Cross-media substitution; Clean Air Act (CAA); Clean Water Act (CWA); National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS); Inspection; Enforcement (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q53 Q58 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:kap:regeco:v:51:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11149-016-9314-6