Regional growth and exposure to nearby coal fired power plant emissions
Coal fired power plants emit high levels of air pollution per unit of power generated. A comparison of emissions factors (pounds of emissions per megawatt hour of power generation) based on year 2004 data reveals that the average coal fired power plant emits six times as much nitrogen oxide and more than twelve times as much sulfur dioxide as the average non-coal fired power plant. This paper uses data on the population of all electric utilities in the United States and evidence on population growth across regions to document that; pollution levels are higher in counties with coal fired plants, and that the population is moving away from regions such as the Midwest where the dirtiest coal fired power plants are located. Population growth is taking place in the South and West. Especially in the Western region, the power plants are newer and cleaner and less likely to be coal fired. In the South and West, population growth has a smaller impact on power plant emissions growth than in the Northeast and Midwest.
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