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

Resources for the Future Discussion Paper No. 13-10

33 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2013

See all articles by Blair Beasley

Blair Beasley

Resources for the Future

Matt Woerman

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Anthony C. Paul

Resources for the Future

Dallas Burtraw

Resources for the Future

Karen L. Palmer

Resources for the Future

Date Written: April 8, 2013

Abstract

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.

Keywords: sulfur dioxide, mercury, air toxics, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, electricity, technology, generation

JEL Classification: Q47, Q53, Q58

Suggested Citation

Beasley, Blair and Woerman, Matt and Paul, Anthony C. and Burtraw, Dallas and Palmer, Karen, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Analysis Deconstructed: Changing Assumptions, Changing Results (April 8, 2013). Resources for the Future Discussion Paper No. 13-10, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2251261 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2251261

Blair Beasley

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Matt Woerman

University of Massachusetts Amherst ( email )

Amherst, MA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/mattwoerman/

Anthony C. Paul

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Dallas Burtraw (Contact Author)

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202-328-5087 (Phone)

Karen Palmer

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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