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Accounting for Climate and Air Quality Damages in Future U.S. Electricity Generation Scenarios

Brown, Kristen E., Henze, Daven K., Milford, Jana B.
Environmental Science & Technology 2013 v.47 no.7 pp. 3065-3072
air quality, climate, electricity, fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, models, nitrogen oxides, particulates, pollutants, sulfur dioxide, Eastern United States, Western United States
The EPA-MARKAL model of the U.S. electricity sector is used to examine how imposing emissions fees based on estimated health and environmental damages might change electricity generation. Fees are imposed on life-cycle emissions of SO₂, nitrogen oxides (NOₓ), particulate matter, and greenhouse gases (GHG) from 2015 through 2055. Changes in electricity production, fuel type, emissions controls, and emissions produced under various fees are examined. A shift in fuels used for electricity production results from $30/ton CO₂-equivalent GHG fees or from criteria pollutant fees set at the higher-end of the range of published damage estimates, but not from criteria pollutant fees based on low or midrange damage estimates. With midrange criteria pollutant fees assessed, SO₂ and NOₓ emissions are lower than the business as usual case (by 52% and 10%, respectively), with larger differences in the western U.S. than in the eastern U.S. GHG emissions are not significantly impacted by midrange criteria pollutant fees alone; conversely, with only GHG fees, NOₓ emissions are reduced by up to 11%, yet SO₂ emissions are slightly higher than in the business as usual case. Therefore, fees on both GHG and criteria pollutants may be needed to achieve significant reductions in both sets of pollutants.