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Ordering the Extraction of Polluting Nonrenewable Resources

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  • Ujjayant Chakravorty
  • Michel Moreaux
  • Mabel Tidball

Abstract

A well-known theorem by Herfindahl states that the low-cost nonrenewable resource must be exploited first. Consider resources that are differentiated only by their pollution content. For instance, both coal and natural gas are used to generate electricity, yet coal is more polluting. We show that the ordering of extraction need not be driven by whether a resource is clean or dirty. Coal may be used first, followed by natural gas, and again by coal. Such "vacillation" does not occur under cost heterogeneity. A perverse policy implication is that regulating pollution may accelerate use of the polluting resource.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 98 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 1128-44

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:3:p:1128-44

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.3.1128
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  1. Amigues, J-P & Favard, P & Gaudet, G & Moreaux, M, 1996. "On the Optimal Order of Natural Resource Use When the Capacity of the Inexhaustible Substitute is Limited," Cahiers de recherche 9628, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  2. Ujjayant Chakravorty & Bertrand Magne & Michel Moreaux, 2003. "A Hotelling Model with a Ceiling on the Stock of Pollution," Emory Economics 0321, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  3. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Krulce, Darrell L, 1994. "Heterogeneous Demand and Order of Resource Extraction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1445-52, November.
  4. Lewis, Tracy R, 1982. "Sufficient Conditions for Extracting Least Cost Resource First," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1081-83, July.
  5. Smulders, J.A. & Werf, E.H. van der, 2005. "Climate Policy and the Optimal Extraction of High- and Low-Carbon Fossil Fuels," Discussion Paper 2005-119, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  6. Kemp, Murray C & Long, Ngo Van, 1980. "On Two Folk Theorems Concerning the Extraction of Exhaustible Resources," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(3), pages 663-73, April.
  7. Gerard Gaudet & Michel Moreaux & Stephen W. Salant, 2001. "Intertemporal Depletion of Resource Sites by Spatially Distributed Users," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1149-1159, September.
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