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Should we be Worried about the Green Paradox? Announcement Effects of the Acid Rain Program

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  • Corrado Di Maria
  • Ian A. Lange
  • Edwin van der Werf

Abstract

This paper presents the first empirical test of the green paradox hypothesis, according to which well-intended but imperfectly implemented policies may lead to detrimental environmental outcomes due to supply side responses. We use the introduction of the Acid Rain Program in the U.S. as a case study. The theory predicts that owners of coal deposits, expecting future sales to decline, would supply more of their resource between the announcement of the Acid Rain Program and its implementation; moreover, the incentive to increase supply would be stronger for owners of high-sulfur coal. This would, all else equal, induce an increase in sulfur dioxide emissions. Using data on prices, heat input and sulfur content of coal delivered to U.S. power plants, we find strong evidence of a price decrease, some indication that the amount of coal used might have increased, and no evidence that the announcement of the Acid Rain Program lead the use of higher sulfur coal. Overall, our evidence suggests that while the mechanism indicated by the theory might be at work, market conditions and concurrent regulation prevented a green paradox from arising. These results have implications for the design of climate policies.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3829.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3829

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Keywords: Green Paradox; implementation lags; announcement effects; climate policy; acid rain policy;

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  1. Thomas Eichner & Rüdiger Pethig, 2009. "Carbon Leakage, the Green Paradox and Perfect Future Markets," CESifo Working Paper Series 2542, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Quentin Grafton, R. & Kompas, Tom & Van Long, Ngo, 2012. "Substitution between biofuels and fossil fuels: Is there a green paradox?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 328-341.
  3. Smulders, Sjak A. & Tsur, Y. & Zemel, A., 2010. "Announcing climate policy: Can a green paradox arise without scarcity?," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-4500307, Tilburg University.
  4. Frederick van der Ploeg & Cees Withagen, 2010. "Is there really a Green Paradox?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-020/3, Tinbergen Institute, revised 27 Aug 2012.
  5. Shelby Gerking & Stephen F. Hamilton, 2008. "What Explains the Increased Utilization of Powder River Basin Coal in Electric Power Generation?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(4), pages 933-950.
  6. van der Werf, Edwin & Di Maria, Corrado, 2012. "Imperfect Environmental Policy and Polluting Emissions: The Green Paradox and Beyond," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 6(2), pages 153-194, March.
  7. Hans-Werner Sinn, 2007. "Public Policies against Global Warming," NBER Working Papers 13454, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Fischer, Carolyn & Salant, Stephen, 2012. "Alternative Climate Policies and Intertemporal Emissions Leakage: Quantifying the Green Paradox," Discussion Papers dp-12-16, Resources For the Future.
  9. Ellerman, A. Denny & Montero, Juan-Pablo, 1998. "The Declining Trend in Sulfur Dioxide Emissions: Implications for Allowance Prices," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 26-45, July.
  10. Maria Kozhevnikova & Ian Lange, 2009. "Determinants of Contract Duration: Further Evidence from Coal-Fired Power Plants," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 217-229, May.
  11. Ellerman,A. Denny & Convery,Frank J. & de Perthuis,Christian, 2010. "Pricing Carbon," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521196475.
  12. De Perthuis, Christian & Convery, Frank J. & Ellerman, Denny, 2010. "Pricing carbon : the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10174, Paris Dauphine University.
  13. Lange Ian & Bellas Allen S, 2007. "The 1990 Clean Air Act and the Implicit Price of Sulfur in Coal," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-25, August.
  14. Kosnik, Lea & Lange, Ian, 2011. "Contract renegotiation and rent re-distribution: Who gets raked over the coals?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 155-165, September.
  15. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 2012. "The Green Paradox: A Supply-Side Approach to Global Warming," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262016680, December.
  16. Di Maria, Corrado & Smulders, Sjak & van der Werf, Edwin, 2012. "Absolute abundance and relative scarcity: Environmental policy with implementation lags," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 104-119.
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