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Plant vintages, grandfathering, and environmental policy

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  • Heutel, Garth

Abstract

Environmental regulations that grandfather existing plants, by not holding them to the same strict standards as new plants, may have the unintended consequence of retarding new investment. If new plants are cleaner, then this effect may increase pollution in the short run. I develop a dynamic model of a facility's decisions over scrapping and abatement, which depend on capital depreciation, profitability shocks, and environmental policy. Using data from fossil fuel fired boilers at electric power plants, I estimate the structural parameters of the model and assess the impact of grandfathering in the Clean Air Act on sulfur dioxide emissions. Counterfactual policy simulations show that an increase in the stringency of performance standards would have led to a decrease in investment in new boilers. However, this does not lead to increased emissions, since there is less investment in dirtier coal boilers as compared to relatively cleaner oil or natural gas boilers.

Suggested Citation

  • Heutel, Garth, 2011. "Plant vintages, grandfathering, and environmental policy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 36-51, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:61:y:2011:i:1:p:36-51
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    Cited by:

    1. Adair, Sarah K. & Hoppock, David C. & Monast, Jonas J., 2014. "New Source Review and coal plant efficiency gains: How new and forthcoming air regulations affect outcomes," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 183-192.
    2. Proost, Stef & Van Dender, Kurt, 2012. "Energy and environment challenges in the transport sector," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 77-87.
    3. Li, Zhe, 2008. "Productivity Dispersion across Plants, Emission Abatement, and Environmental Policy," MPRA Paper 9564, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Bushnell, James B. & Wolfram, Catherine D., 2012. "Enforcement of vintage differentiated regulations: The case of new source review," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 137-152.
    5. Bushnell, James & Wolfram, Catherine, 2008. "Enforcement of Vintage Differentiated Regulations: The Case of New Source Review," Staff General Research Papers Archive 31185, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    6. Calcott, Paul, 2012. "Regulatory triggers and New Source Review," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 337-348.

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