Economics of the environment

Corbett Grainger, Assistant ProfessorAir_pollution_smoke_rising_from_plant_tower
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
cagrainger@wisc.edu
Phone (608) 262-3651

Corbett Grainger goes educates us on the many forms of pollution, and how Wisconsin will benefit from cutting down.

3:04 – Total Time
0:19 – Pollution hurts people
0:47 – Affect of recent EPA changes
1:10 – Different types of pollution
1:30 – Research on pollution costs
2:02 – Rural Wisconsin benefits from pollution reduction
2:23 – Little affect on power costs
2:54 – Log out
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Corbett Grainger on air pollution

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Transcript

Sevie Kenyon: Corbett what are some of the health facts of pollution on people?

 

Corbett Grainger: Yeah so air pollution has huge impacts on the population. Some of these are obvious like asthma of bronchitis, but some of the other benefits of the pollution benefits are things that we might not think of like days missed at work, or days missed at school, or missed visits to the hospital because you’re not having an asthma attack. So there are pretty big health benefits associated with pollution reductions, and these are things that economists spend a lot of time talking about.

 

Sevie Kenyon: And Corbett, there’s been some changes…

 

Corbett Grainger: Recently the EPA proposed some new guidelines to cut carbon pollution. And carbon pollution is associated with other types of pollution as well because when you burn coal you don’t just get carbon dioxide emissions, you get direct emissions of particulates, you get sulfates and other things that have direct health impacts on people.

 

Sevie Kenyon: Can you perhaps describe briefly the difference between the carbon emission and the particulate emission?

 

Corbett Grainger: So the carbon emissions comes from burning any fossil fuel, but if you’re burning something dirty especially coal; you could think of soot or direct particles coming out of the smoke stack, getting blown around the atmosphere, and eventually coming down and causing exposure and health problems in people.

 

Sevie Kenyon: Corbett can you perhaps tell us what your research is telling us about pollution?

 

Corbett Grainger: So some of the work I’m doing on pollution looks at distributional impacts of pollution regulations. So trying to think of which types of income groups, or which demographic groups are most likely to be impacted by the regulation themselves. And so some work I’m doing related to these new regulations is looking at how different stakeholders could be impacted by different approaches to regulations. So you can think of how rural communities might be impacted versus urban communities, or how the rich households might be impacted compared to poor households.

 

Sevie Kenyon: How is rural Wisconsin affected differently than urban Wisconsin?

 

Corbett Grainger: It’s a complicated story, it’s something that we’re working on, but general if you think of where the coal power plants are, and if you think of a reduction in those emissions, and where the clean energy would be coming from, usually that ends up being a win for rural populations.

 

Sevie Kenyon: Corbett, how are these pollution abatement regulations likely to effect the cost of power and electricity?

 

Corbett Grainger: Most economists that appliqued this have actually estimated almost zero impact at the end of the day because you can think of this as kind of averaging overall consumers, and so the average impact on consumers is likely to be quite small. This is meant to provide a new incentive. We’re moving from carbon to new, less carbon intensive fuel sources. As these shifts are kind of gradual and as these regulations are rolled out, economists that have looked at this have estimated almost no impact on electricity prices. Which is the first sort of concern for most consumers.

 

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Corbett Grainger, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.

 

 

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