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The cost of air pollution abatement

Listed author(s):
  • Hartman, Raymond
  • Wheeler, David
  • Singh, Manjula
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    Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the authors have developed comprehensive estimates of pollution abatement costs by industry sector for several major air pollutants. Their results provide conservative benchmarks for benefit-cost analysis of pollution control strategies in developing countries. They also provide striking evidence of inefficiency in U.S. command-and-control regulation. The cost estimates reflect the experience of about 100,000 U.S. manufacturing facilities under actual operating conditions. They are based on a complete accounting of costs - including capital, labor energy, materials, and services. So, they should be more useful for benefit-cost analysis than idealized engineering estimates. But they also reflect strict pollution control regulation and input prices which are probably somewhat higher, on average, than those in developing countries. They should be interpreted as conservative estimates for environmental planning in developing countries. Regulatory options that are judged to have high net benefits using these numbers would probably look even better if local abatement cost data were available. The estimates in this paper can provide useful information for pollution charges. They can also help make targeted regulation more cost-effective. With scarce resources for monitoring and enforcement, new regulatory institutions in developing countries will want to focus initially on industry sectors that are the main sources of locally-dangerous pollutants. After those sectors are identified, targeted regulation should be informed by sectoral differences in abatement cost. The estimates suggest, for example, that cost-effective control of suspended particulate emissions will focus on wood pulping rather than steelmaking when both are major sources of suspended particulates. The reason: average particulate abatement costs are four times higher in steelmaking.

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    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1398.

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    Date of creation: 31 Dec 1994
    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1398
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    1. Mundle, S. & Shankar,m U. & Mehta, S., 1995. "Incentives and Regulation for Pullution Abatement with an Application to Waste Water Treatment," Papers 63, Asian Development Bank.
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