Currie, Janet, Lucas Davis, Michael Greenstone, and Reed Walker. 2015. "Environmental Health Risks and Housing Values: Evidence from 1,600 Toxic Plant Openings and Closings." American Economic Review, 105(2): 678-709.
Regulatory oversight of toxic emissions from industrial plants and understanding about these emissions' impacts are in their infancy. Applying a research design based on the openings and closings of 1,600 industrial plants to rich data on housing markets and infant health, we find that: toxic air emissions affect air quality only within 1 mile of the plant; plant openings lead to 11 percent declines in housing values within 0.5 mile or a loss of about $4.25 million for these households; and a plant's operation is associated with a roughly 3 percent increase in the probability of low birthweight within 1 mile. (JEL I12, L60, Q52, Q53, Q58, R23, R31)
While uncomfortable, sometimes it pays to think beyond the obvious:
People who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming.
Ethanol isn't so green, either.
"It's kind of hard to beat gasoline" for public and environmental health, said study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota. "A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean ... are not better than gasoline."
The key is where the source of the electricity all-electric cars. If it comes from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution made in generating the electricity, according to the study that is published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They also are significantly worse at heat-trapping carbon dioxide that worsens global warming, it found.
I'm not saying the authors are right or wrong--I haven't read the original study and I know how findings in studies can get mangled in press blurbs. But I've often wondered if those who buy electric cars think about electricity sources when they buy. I get the sense that buyers are often well-intentioned ('At least I'm not burning those evil fossil fuels.') without considering the unintended (and unseen) consequences.
The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced today that the Hyundai Motor Company and the Kia Motors Corporation would pay a combined $100 million penalty as part of a settlement for overstating vehicle fuel economy standards on 1.2 million vehicles, a violation of the Clean Air Act.
The penalty is the largest ever paid for violation of the Clean Air Act, government officials said.
Since the travel cost variable depends on the cost of fuel per mile and the cost of fule per mile depends on miles per gallon, all of the cost per mile estimates in recreation demand models suffer from measurement error. Proceed to retract your travel cost method journal papers.
Or, nevermind, the travel cost variable is so loaded with measurement error that this addition doesn't matter.
While yesterday's Presidential/EPA announcement of 30% reductions in CO2 emission by 2030 sounds like a drastic reduction, the Columbus Dispatch notes that the baseline matters. And the baseline is almost 10 years ago (2005). For Ohio, that means they are already over halfway to the 30% goal.
States will have a variety of options to meet the goal, the source said.
Variety is the spice of life.
Some Republicans aren't happy, saying the requirement will kill jobs in the coal industry.
"Some Republicans aren't happy"? That's an understatement. But let's work through the logic. Some Republicans aren't happy. Therefore, not all Republicans aren't not happy. So some Republicans are the opposite of not happy.
But the White House says it's not just good for the environment, it will also be healthier.
"The Administration has set out to kill coal and its 800,000 jobs," Sen. Mike Enzi said in the GOP weekly address Saturday. "If it succeeds in death by regulation, we'll all be paying a lot more money for electricity - if we can get it."
But, maybe, just maybe, we all are paying too little for electricity now?
European Union efforts to fight climate change favored diesel fuel over gasoline because it emits less carbon dioxide, or CO2. However, diesel’s contaminants have swamped benefits from measures that include a toll drivers pay to enter central London, a thriving bike-hire program and growing public-transport network.
“Successive governments knew more than 10 years ago that diesel was producing all these harmful pollutants, but they myopically plowed on with their CO2 agenda,” said Simon Birkett, founder of Clean Air in London, a nonprofit group. “It’s been a catastrophe for air pollution, and that’s not too strong a word. It’s a public-health catastrophe.”
How bad is it? Here's a comparison:
The EU limits NO2 to a maximum of 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The concentration on Marylebone Road, a stone’s throw from Regent’s Park, was almost 94 micrograms in 2012, according to the most recent data from the EEA.
The level for the site last year was 81 micrograms, and it’s averaging 83 micrograms this year, according to King’s College London. In 1998, when the King’s College data begins, it was 92. That’s about the time the switch to diesel started.
In contrast, Beijing had a concentration of 56 micrograms last year, according to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. The Chinese capital has a worse problem with other pollutants, registering almost triple the level of PM10 particles (bigger than PM2.5s) as on Marylebone Road.
In a major victory for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the smog from coal plants that drifts across state lines from 28 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast.
The 6-to-2 ruling bolsters the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda: a series of new regulations aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants. Republicans and the coal industry have criticized the regulations, which use the Clean Air Act as their legal authority, as a “war on coal.” The industry has waged an aggressive legal battle to undo the rules. ...
The interstate air pollution regulation, also known as the “good neighbor” rule, has pitted Rust Belt and Appalachian states like Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky against East Coast states like New York and Connecticut.
In its arguments before the court, the E.P.A. said the rules were necessary to protect the health and the environment of downwind states. East Coast states in particular are vulnerable to pollution blown by the prevailing west-to-east winds of the United States. The soot and smog produced by coal plants are linked to asthma, lung disease and premature death.
In her decision, Justice Ginsburg noted that in reining in interstate pollution, regulators must account for the vagaries of the wind. ...
In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, said the regulation was unwieldy and suggested it was Marxist. As written, the regulation will require upwind polluting states to cut pollution in relation to the amounts of pollution each state produces, but also as a proportion of how affordably a state can make the cuts. In other words, states that are able to more cost-effectively reduce pollution will be required to cut more of it.
“I fully acknowledge that the proportional-reduction approach will demand some complicated computations where one upwind state is linked to multiple downwind states and vice versa,” Justice Scalia wrote.
“I am confident, however, that E.P.A.’s skilled number-crunchers can adhere to the statute’s quantitative (rather than efficiency) mandate by crafting quantitative solutions. Indeed, those calculations can be performed at the desk, whereas the ‘from each according to its ability’ approach requires the unwieldy field examination of many pollution-producing sources with many sorts of equipment,” he said, paraphrasing Karl Marx.
Economic incentive based policy, such as a carbon tax, can be used to cut pollution in proportion to how much is produced and is cost-effective (here is some background). With a carbon tax lower cost polluters end up cutting more pollution and the overall cost falls. Equating the efficiency properties of incentive-based policy with Marx is odd.
Today’s Supreme Court ruling reinstating limits on sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from coal-fired power plants, as required by the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), is a significant victory for our public health. The 6-2 decision makes clear that CSAPR’s provisions fully conform with the Clean Air Act and should be implemented as directed. ...
In 2011 EPA estimated that, by 2014, the rule would prevent an estimated 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths and 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, providing $120 to $280 billion in annual health and environmental benefits. These benefits would be achieved at annual costs of $800 million due to the rule.
From the inbox (courtesy of my mother-in-law): This is an excerpt from a Sierra Club email. I do take the source into consideration. But it does sound like your kind of thing.
”The cost of climate change is rising and we all pay the price. Communities rebuild after superstorms and wildfires. Businesses see their fortunes fall as droughts sweep the heartland. Families face rising health care costs for asthma attacks and heart problems caused by runaway pollution.
Fossil fuel billionaires like the Koch brothers will keep hiding the consequences of their pollution unless there's a firm, scientific, and official cost for their carbon pollution -- and that's exactly what the White House's Office of Management and Budget is working on. It's called the social cost of carbon, and it's a measure of how much economic damage is being done to our society by each and every ton of carbon pollution that's pumped into our air. ”
"This blog aims to look at more of the microeconomic ideas that can be used toward environmental ends. Bringing to bear a large quantity of external sources and articles, this blog presents a clear vision of what economic environmentalism can be."
Don't believe what they're saying
And allow me a quick moment to gush: ... The env-econ.net blog was more or less a lifeline in that period of my life, as it was one of the few ways I stayed plugged into the env. econ scene. -- Anonymous
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"... I try and read the blog everyday and have pointed it out to other faculty who have their students read it for class. It is truly one of the best things in the blogosphere." -- Anonymous