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The Economic Effects of Vintage Differentiated Regulations: The Case of New Source Review

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  • Lence, Sergio H.
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    Abstract

    This paper analyzes the effects of the New Source Review (NSR) environmental regulations on coal-fired electric power plants. The New Source Review program, which grew out of the Clean Air Act of 1970, required new plants to install costly pollution control equipment but exempted existing plants with a grandfathering clause. Previous theoretical research has shown that vintage differentiated regulations, like NSR, can lead to distortions, and if the distortions are large, the short-run effect of a regulation like NSR may be to increase pollution rather than reduce it. Older, dirtier plants may be kept in service longer or run more intensively since replacing them becomes more expensive. In the case of NSR, there is also an effect associated with its enforcement. Since upgrading a plant could potentially qualify it as a new plant, the old plants may have done less maintenance leading to lower efficiency and higher emissions. This paper attempts to estimate the extent to which these mechanisms have impacted coal-fired electric power plants. We find suggestive evidence that NSR increased operating lifetimes of plants in areas where environmental regulations were most stringent. We also find evidence that the risk of NSR enforcement reduced capital expenditures at plants. However, we find no discernable effect on the operating costs or fuel efficiency of these plants.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 13132.

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    Date of creation: 01 Jan 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:13132

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    Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
    Phone: +1 515.294.6741
    Fax: +1 515.294.0221
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    Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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    Cited by:
    1. Nathaniel Keohane & Erin T. Mansur & Andrey Voynov, 2007. "Averting Regulatory Enforcement: Evidence from New Source Review," NBER Working Papers 13512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Steven Shavell, 2007. "On Optimal Legal Change, Past Behavior, and Grandfathering," NBER Working Papers 13563, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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