Death of Coal and Breath of Life: The Effect of Power Plant Closure on Local Air Quality
46 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2020
Date Written: October 15, 2020
The number of U.S. coal-red power plants declined by nearly 250 between 2001 and 2018. Given that burning coal generates large amounts of particulate matter is known to have adverse health effects, closure of coal-red power plants should improve local air quality. Using spatial panel data from air quality monitor stations and coal-red power plants, we estimate the relationship between plant closure and local air quality. We find that on average, the levels of particulate matter within 25 and 50 mile buffers around air quality monitors declined between 7 and 14 percent with each closure. We estimate that the event of closure is associated with a 0.6 percent decline in local mortality probabilities. On a value of statistical life basis, the median local benefit of coal power plant closure ranged between $1 and $4 billion or 5 to 15 percent of local GDP since the early 2000s.
Keywords: air quality; coal; plant closure
JEL Classification: Q35, Q53, R11
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