Perspective | Published:

US power plant carbon standards and clean air and health co-benefits

Nature Climate Change volume 5, pages 535540 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

Carbon dioxide emissions standards for US power plants will influence the fuels and technologies used to generate electricity, alter emissions of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, and influence ambient air quality and public health. We present an analysis of how three alternative scenarios for US power plant carbon standards could change fine particulate matter and ozone concentrations in ambient air, and the resulting public health co-benefits. The results underscore that carbon standards to curb global climate change can also provide immediate local and regional health co-benefits, but the magnitude depends on the design of the standards. A stringent but flexible policy that counts demand-side energy efficiency towards compliance yields the greatest health benefits of the three scenarios analysed.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units 79 FR 34829 (US EPA, 2014);

  2. 2.

    National Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2013 Publication No. 430-R-14–003 (US EPA, 2014);

  3. 3.

    Annual Energy Outlook 2014 with Projections to 2040 (DOE/EIA, 2014);

  4. 4.

    Regulatory Impact Analysis for the Proposed Carbon Pollution Guidelines for Existing Power Plants and Emission Standards for Modified and Reconstructed Power Plants Publication No. EPA-452/R-14-002 (US EPA, 2014);

  5. 5.

    et al. Long-term ozone exposure and mortality. New Engl. J. Med. 360, 1085–1095 (2009).

  6. 6.

    et al. Estimating the national public health burden associated with exposure to ambient PM2.5 and ozone. Risk Anal. 32, 81–95 (2012).

  7. 7.

    , , & The costs and consequences of greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act. Am. Econ. Rev. 104, 557–562 (2014).

  8. 8.

    & Efficient pollution regulation: Getting the prices right. Am. Econ. Rev. 99, 1714–1739 (2009).

  9. 9.

    & Efficient pollution regulation: Getting the prices right: Comment. Am. Econ. Rev. 102, 602–607 (2012).

  10. 10.

    The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020 (US EPA, 2011);

  11. 11.

    Regulatory Impact Analysis for the Final Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Publication No. EPA-452/R-11-011 (US EPA, 2011);

  12. 12.

    Population by Single Year of Age (Woods & Poole Economics, 2008).

  13. 13.

    HCUPnet, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2007).

Download references

Acknowledgements

Financial support for this work was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Grantham Foundation and Mistra's Indigo Program. The authors thank colleagues M. Weiss, K. Driscoll, M. Hale, J. Macedonia, S. Pan, S. Sekar and S. Yeh.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244, USA

    • Charles T. Driscoll
    •  & Habibollah Fakhraei
  2. Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA

    • Jonathan J. Buonocore
  3. School of Public Health, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA

    • Jonathan I. Levy
  4. Harvard Forest, Harvard University, Petersham, Massachusetts 01366, USA

    • Kathleen F. Lambert
  5. Resources for the Future, Washington DC 20036, USA

    • Dallas Burtraw
  6. Sonoma Technology, Petaluma, California 94954, USA

    • Stephen B. Reid
  7. Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA

    • Joel Schwartz

Authors

  1. Search for Charles T. Driscoll in:

  2. Search for Jonathan J. Buonocore in:

  3. Search for Jonathan I. Levy in:

  4. Search for Kathleen F. Lambert in:

  5. Search for Dallas Burtraw in:

  6. Search for Stephen B. Reid in:

  7. Search for Habibollah Fakhraei in:

  8. Search for Joel Schwartz in:

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Charles T. Driscoll.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary information

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2598

Further reading