Federally Mandated but Locally Administered: Political Differences in Air Pollution Abatement Under the Clean Air Act

63 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2021

See all articles by Zach Raff

Zach Raff

University of Wisconsin - Stout

Jason M. Walter

University of Tulsa

Andrew Meyer

Marquette University

Date Written: November 10, 2020

Abstract

In the US, much of the authority to administer the Clean Air Act (CAA) is delegated to indi-vidual states. States are responsible primarily for the administration of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), which impose technological and other requirements on stationary emission sources located in areas in “nonattainment” with the standards. In this paper, we examine the differential state level implementation of the CAA’s technological requirements across political regimes. We use a regression discontinuity design to estimate the effect of each state’s political leadership on the expenditures and types of new air pollution abatement technology at electric utili-ties. We find that the political affiliation of a state’s governor has no effect on either outcome in ar-eas that meet the NAAQS. However, in nonattainment areas, Republican gubernatorial control de-creases utilities’ new air pollution abatement capital expenditures and their probability of installing “first-best” nitrogen oxide abatement technology, relative to utilities in states with a Democratic governor. Finally, we present evidence that the additional costs of abatement technology adoption at utilities in nonattainment areas with a Democratic governor exceed the additional health benefits of decreased NOx emissions in these areas.

Keywords: abatement technology, Clean Air Act, electric utilities, environmental federalism

JEL Classification: K23, L51, Q53, Q58, R11

Suggested Citation

Raff, Zach and Walter, Jason M. and Meyer, Andrew, Federally Mandated but Locally Administered: Political Differences in Air Pollution Abatement Under the Clean Air Act (November 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3728705 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3728705

Zach Raff

University of Wisconsin - Stout ( email )

Menomonie , WI 54751
United States

Jason M. Walter

University of Tulsa ( email )

Tulsa, OK 74104
United States

Andrew Meyer (Contact Author)

Marquette University ( email )

1225 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53233
United States
414-288-5489 (Phone)

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