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Nicholas Muller - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Nicholas Muller

Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


Nicholas Muller works at the intersection of environmental policy and economics.


Nicholas Muller works at the intersection of environmental policy and economics. His interdisciplinary research projects focus on estimating individual discount rates and risk preferences using historical pricing data, comparing air pollution and climate damages from electric vehicles to conventional vehicles, estimating air pollution damage from energy production, measuring the impact of transporting freight in the United State on air pollution and climate, and analyzing the inequality in market and augmented measures of income.

Areas of Expertise (5)


Air Pollution

Environmental Policy

Freight Transportation

Market Inequality

Media Appearances (5)

Regulators underrate air pollution mortality by $100B, ignore racial gaps: study

The Hill  online


“Underlying mortality rates, pollution exposure and pollution vulnerability differ significantly across racial and ethnic groups,” Nicholas Z. Muller, study co-author and a professor of economics, engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, said in a statement.

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135 million Americans are breathing unhealthy air, American Lung Association says

NBC News  


“Generally, there are two local air pollutants that the U.S., EPA, and other researchers tend to focus on,” explained Nicholas Muller, associate professor of economics, engineering, and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “Those are fine particulate matter and tropospheric or ground-level ozone.”

Study: US air pollution deaths increased by 9,700 a year from 2016 to 2018

Vox  online


The researchers, Karen Clay and Nicholas Muller, argue that some of the increase is due to non-regulatory factors, like an increase in wildfires and economic growth. But they note a decline in Clean Air Act enforcement under Donald Trump that could be responsible as well.

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America’s Air Quality Worsens, Ending Years of Gains, Study Says

The New York Times  online


“After a decade or so of reductions,” said Nick Muller, a professor of economics, engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon, and one of the study’s co-authors, “this increase is a real about-face.”

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New study: US air pollution rose from 2016-2018, resulting in premature deaths

The Hill  online


“That increase was associated with 9,700 premature deaths in 2018,” Karen Clay and Nicholas Muller, economists with Carnegie Mellon, wrote in a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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Industry Expertise (3)


International Trade and Development

Air Freight/Courier Services

Accomplishments (1)

United States Environmental Protection Agency Scientific and Technological Achievement Award, Level II (professional)


Education (3)

Yale University: Ph.D., Environmental and Natural Resource Economics 2007

Indiana University: M.P.A., Environmental Policy & Public Financial Administration 2002

University of Oregon: B.S., Public Policy, Planning and Management 1996

Affiliations (1)

  • Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation

Articles (5)

Policy spillovers, technological lock-in, and efficiency gains from regional pollution taxes in the US

Energy and Climate Change

2022 We used the US-TIMES energy-system model in conjunction with integrated assessment models for air pollution (AP3, EASIUR, InMAP) to estimate the consequences of local air pollutant (LAP) and carbon dioxide (CO2) policy on technology-choice, energy-system costs, emissions, and pollution damages in the United States. We report substantial policy spillover: Both LAP and CO2 taxes cause similar levels of decarbonization. Under LAP taxes, decarbonization was a result of an increase in natural gas generation and a near-complete phaseout of coal generation in the electric sector.

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The hidden value of trees: quantifying the ecosystem services of tree lineages and their major threats across the contiguous US

PLOS Sustainability and Transformation

2022 Trees provide critical contributions to human well-being. They sequester and store greenhouse gasses, filter air pollutants, provide wood, food, and other products, among other benefits. These benefits are threatened by climate change, fires, pests and pathogens. To quantify the current value of the flow of ecosystem services from U.S. trees, and the threats they face, we combine macroevolutionary and economic valuation approaches using spatially explicit data about tree species and lineages. We find that the value of five key ecosystem services with adequate data generated by US trees is $114 billion per annum (low: $85 B; high: $137 B; 2010 USD).

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Mortality Risk from : A Comparison of Modeling Approaches to Identify Disparities across Racial/Ethnic Groups in Policy Outcomes

Environmental Health Perspectives

2022 Regulatory analyses of air pollution policies require the use of concentration–response functions and underlying health data to estimate the mortality and morbidity effects, as well as the resulting benefits, associated with policy-related changes in fine particulate matter ()]. Common practice by U.S. federal agencies involves using underlying health data and concentration–response functions that are not differentiated by racial/ethnic group.

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Greenhouse Gas Estimates of LNG Exports Must Include Global Market Effects

Environmental Science & Technology

2022 We conduct a consequential lifecycle analysis (LCA) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from North American liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects, estimating the change in global natural gas and coal use resulting from the market effects of increased LNG trade. We estimate that building a 2.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcfd) LNG export facility, equivalent to one of the larger LNG projects under development in the US today, will change global GHG emissions −39 to 11 Mt CO2e (90% range) with a median value of −8 Mt CO2e. Previous attributional LCA methods for electricity generation with LNG replacing coal find a much larger benefit of LNG exports, a median value of −36 Mt CO2e for this size project.

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Heterogeneous solar capacity benefits, appropriability, and the costs of suboptimal siting

Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists

2021 This paper estimates that pollution damages avoidable by solar capacity vary considerably across zip codes in the United States and that they are uncorrelated with solar subsidy levels in each state. We estimate that $1 billion in avoided pollution damages would be gained annually from optimal siting of installed rooftop solar capacity. States are shown to appropriate a minority of these benefits from their solar investments because of interstate electricity and air pollution flows. This paper further measures the energy value of solar capacity across the United States and finds that rooftop solar does not relieve grid congestion.

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