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Publication Date


First Advisor

Alexander Barron

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Science and Policy


EPA regulation, Mercury, Coal generation, Retrospective analysis, Electricity, Form 10-K


This honors thesis studied the impacts of an Obama-era air regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency. This 2012 rule, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), regulates electric generators with coal- and oil-fired power plants. When the rule was put forward, it was the most expensive EPA rule of its time. Industry was concerned that the rule would be prohibitively expensive and negatively impact the ability of electric generators to stay in business while supplying reliable and affordable electricity. MATS is currently in effect, and all relevant generation is fully in compliance with the regulation. This research aimed to understand the actual impacts of the regulation on industry to gauge whether the regulation had the negative impacts industry predicted. This research employed retrospective analysis of financial disclosures from before, during, and after MATS in order to understand impacts to industry and how they changed over the course of the regulation. Though MATS-specific data was largely unavailable for the study group, this research found that the regulation was likely less worrisome and financially detrimental to utilities than industry had anticipated.


©2019 Haleigh M. Anderson Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




165 pages : color maps. Includes bibliographical references (pages 156-165)