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Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Analysis Deconstructed: Changing Assumptions, Changing Results


  • Beasley, Blair

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Woerman, Matt

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Paul, Anthony

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Burtraw, Dallas

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Palmer, Karen

    () (Resources for the Future)


Several recent studies have used simulation models to quantify the potential effects of recent environmental regulations on power plants, including the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), one of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s most expensive regulations. These studies have produced inconsistent results about the effects on the industry, making general conclusions difficult. We attempt to reconcile these differences by representing the variety of assumptions in these studies within a common modeling platform. We find that the assumptions, and their differences from the way MATS will be implemented, make a substantial impact on projected retirement of coal-fired capacity and generation, investments that are required, and emissions reductions. Almost uniformly, the actual regulation, when examined in its final form and in isolation, provides more flexibility than is represented in most models. We find this leads to a smaller impact on the composition of the electricity generating fleet than most studies have predicted.

Suggested Citation

  • Beasley, Blair & Woerman, Matt & Paul, Anthony & Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen, 2013. "Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Analysis Deconstructed: Changing Assumptions, Changing Results," Discussion Papers dp-13-10, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-13-10

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    1. repec:wsi:ccexxx:v:03:y:2012:i:04:n:s2010007812500182 is not listed on IDEAS
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    4. Palmer, Karen & Paul, Anthony & Woerman, Matt & Steinberg, Daniel C., 2011. "Federal policies for renewable electricity: Impacts and interactions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 3975-3991, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rahmani, Mohsen & Jaramillo, Paulina & Hug, Gabriela, 2016. "Implications of environmental regulation and coal plant retirements in systems with large scale penetration of wind power," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 196-210.

    More about this item


    sulfur dioxide; mercury; air toxics; nitrogen oxides; carbon dioxide; electricity; technology; generation;

    JEL classification:

    • Q47 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy Forecasting
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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