We document the tendency of coal-fueled electricity plants to locate on jurisdictional borders. We then develop a simple test to detect if the plants are strategically sited. Lastly, we use an atmospheric dispersion model to provide new descriptive statistics on the pervasiveness of the pollution transport problem.">
US environmental policy cedes substantial authority to local governments/agencies—creating potentials for polluters to strategically export emissions. We identify such strategies among coal-fueled power plants. We document electricity generators locate near administrative borders. As water may influence borders/siting, we develop a simple, non-parametric test that demonstrates coal plants locate to reduce their downwind exposure. Natural-gas plants—facing lower regulatory pressure—do not exhibit this behavior. Using a state-of-the-art, particle-trajectory model, we illustrate coal pollution’s extreme mobility: within 6 hours, 50% of coal plants' emissions leave their source states—99% leave their counties. These strategic responses emphasize the importance of federal oversight and transport-focused regulation.