Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)
This chapter evaluates whether existing air pollution control policies, particularly those targeted at agriculture, have succeeded in improving air quality, as measured by the number of exceedances of the CO and NO2 standards. The following air pollution control policies are examined: policies and regulations for agricultural burning, visible emissions, fugitive dust, emission of particulate matter (PM) and PM precursors, emissions of nitrogen compounds, orchard and citrus heaters that release black carbon, and penalty fees. This chapter builds upon the existing environmental economics literature on air quality, most notably the econometric analysis of the impact of federal particulate matter regulation on infant health conducted by Chay and Greenstone and the study of the impact of air pollution on infant death in California by Currie and Neidell, in several ways. First, this paper focuses on the effects of regulation rather than on the effects of air quality. The results therefore have direct implications for policy. Second, the econometric methodology used in this paper exploits the natural variation in policy among the different air districts in California to identify the effects of these policies. Third, this paper examines multiple policies, not just one.
Results from the multivariable regressions point to mixed effects of the air pollution control policies on air quality. Agricultural burning policies and penalty fees reduce the pollution from CO. Other policies such as the prohibition on visible emission, fugitive dust, particulate matter, nitrogen and the reduction of animal matter are correlated with higher levels of CO. Regulations on orchard and citrus heaters have no significant effect on the number of exceedances of the CO and NO2 standards. Results of this research will lead to a better understanding of the regulations affecting air quality, and will provide insight into the appropriate development of management practice to mitigate air pollution problems.