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Conservation Co-Benefits from Air Pollution Regulation

Yuanning Liang, Ivan J. Rudik, Eric Zou, Alison Johnston, Amanda D. Rodewald, Catherine L. Kling

NBER Working Paper No. 27415
Issued in June 2020
NBER Program(s):Environment and Energy Economics

Massive wildlife losses over the past 50 years have brought new urgency to identifying both the drivers of population decline and potential solutions. We provide the first large-scale evidence that air pollution, specifically ozone, is associated with declines in bird abundance in the United States. We show that an air pollution regulation limiting industrial emissions during summer ozone seasons has generated substantial benefits in conserving bird populations. Our results imply that air quality improvements over the past four decades have substantially slowed the decline in bird populations, preventing a loss of 1.5 billion birds, approximately 20 percent of current totals. Our results highlight that in addition to protecting human health, air pollution regulations have previously unrecognized and unquantified conservation co-benefits.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27415

 
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