June 10, 2022
Dr. Adrienne Ohler, Associate Research Professor with FRI, was recently awarded a grant by the University of Missouri Research Council to support a new research project titled The Economics of Environmental Health Disparities: Who Benefits from Coal Power Plant Closures?
Disparate exposure to energy-related air pollution has been shown to increase health inequalities for low income and minority populations, increase their cost of healthcare, and lead to a struggle between energy production and public health and health disparities. To evaluate the economics of these environmental health disparities, Dr. Ohler will examine the distribution of health benefits across socio-economic groups from coal power plant closures.
This project will append National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data on health outcomes with a) location data on coal power plant closures and plant emissions, and b) medical expenditures data on the cost of care for health conditions by race and income.
Public utility regulators and stakeholders have a growing interest in the pecuniary and non-pecuniary costs of various energy sources beyond the costs of capital and operations, including the environmental, health, and equity impacts of energy production and rate design. The proposed research project will aid in our understanding of the environmental public health impacts of coal power plant closures and increase our knowledge of the social distribution effects of transitioning toward a future increasingly reliant on renewable and distributed energy sources. This research is timely and well-designed for addressing pressing issues in the policy and regulatory space.