What's Mine is Yours: Transboundary Pollution from Abandoned Coal Mines
Job Market Candidate
Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Taylor-Hibbard Seminar Room (Rm103)
12:00 pm-1:30 pm
In this paper I investigate whether state regulators in the US consider environmental benefits to neighboring states when prioritizing abandoned coal mines for reclamation. I approach this question in two steps. First, I examine the spatial magnitude of the downstream water quality improvements following abandoned coal mine reclamation. I then use the federal Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System (AMLIS) spatial database that tracks abandoned coal mine reclamation to test whether mines near state borders are less likely to be reclaimed. I find that mine reclamation generates water quality benefits that persist for several hundred kilometers downstream. Additionally, I find that mines are more likely to be reclaimed further upstream from state borders. A one standard deviation increase in mine distance from a state border increases probability of mine reclamation by 6-12%. This paper contributes a novel reduced form approach for estimating pollution incidence and presents evidence for environmental free riding in a policy relevant setting that has not been previously examined.