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The Optimal Pricing of Pollution When Enforcement is Costly

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Author Info

  • John K. Stranlund

    ()
    (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Carlos A. Chavez

    ()
    (Departmento de Economia, Universidad de Concepcion, Chili)

  • Mauricio G. Villena

    ()
    (School of Business, Universidad Adolfo Ibanez, Santiago, Chili)

Abstract

We consider the pricing of a uniformly mixed pollutant when enforcement is costly with a model of optimal, possibly firm-specific, emissions taxes and their enforcement. We argue that optimality requires an enforcement strategy that induces full compliance by every firm. This holds whether or not regulators have complete information about firms’ abatement costs, the costs of monitoring them for compliance, or the costs of collecting penalties from noncompliant firms. Moreover, ignoring several unrealistic special cases, optimality requires discriminatory emissions taxes except when regulators are unable to observe firms’ abatement costs, the costs of monitoring individual firms, or any firm-specific characteristic that is known to be jointly distributed with either the firms’ abatement costs or their monitoring costs. In many pollution control settings, especially those that have been subject to various forms of environmental regulation in the past, regulators are not likely to be so ill-informed about individual firms. In these settings, policies that set or generate a uniform pollution price like conventional designs involving uniform taxes and competitive emission trading with freely-allocated or auctioned permits will not be efficient.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2007-6.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dre:wpaper:2007-6

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Web page: http://www.umass.edu/resec/
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Related research

Keywords: Compliance; Enforcement; Emissions Taxes; Monitoring; Asymmetric Information; Uncertainty;

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References

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  1. Ines Macho-Stadler & David Pérez-Castrillo, 2004. "Optimal Enforcement Policy and Firms’ Emissions and Compliance with Environmental Taxes," CESifo Working Paper Series 1193, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Carmen Arguedas, 2008. "To Comply or Not To Comply? Pollution Standard Setting Under Costly Monitoring and Sanctioning," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 41(2), pages 155-168, October.
  3. Tracy R. Lewis, 1996. "Protecting the Environment When Costs and Benefits Are Privately Known," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(4), pages 819-847, Winter.
  4. Segerson, Kathleen, 1988. "Uncertainty and incentives for nonpoint pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 87-98, March.
  5. Catherine Boemare & Philippe Quirion, 2002. "Implementing greenhouse gas trading in Europe: lessons from economic literature and international experiences," Post-Print halshs-00007264, HAL.
  6. Anthony Heyes, 1994. "Environmental enforcement when ‘inspectability’ is endogenous: A model with overshooting properties," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(5), pages 479-494, October.
  7. Malik, Arun S., 1990. "Markets for pollution control when firms are noncompliant," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 97-106, March.
  8. Carlos Chavez & John K. Stranlund, 2000. "Enforcing Transferable Permit Systems in the Presence of Market Power," Working Papers 04-2000, Departamento de Economía, Universidad de Concepción.
  9. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1992. "Enforcement Costs and the Optimal Magnitude and Probability of Fines," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 133-48, April.
  10. Stranlund, John K. & Dhanda, Kanwalroop Kathy, 1999. "Endogenous Monitoring and Enforcement of a Transferable Emissions Permit System," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 267-282, November.
  11. Stranlund, John K & Chavez, Carlos A, 2000. "Effective Enforcement of a Transferable Emissions Permit System with a Self-Reporting Requirement," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 113-31, September.
  12. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 2002. "Imperfect observability of emissions and second-best emission and output taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 385-407, September.
  13. Bontems, Philippe & Bourgeon, Jean-Marc, 2005. "Optimal environmental taxation and enforcement policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 409-435, February.
  14. Malik, Arun S, 1992. "Enforcement Costs and the Choice of Policy Instruments for Controlling Pollution," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(4), pages 714-21, October.
  15. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Kaplow, Louis, 1993. "Optimal sanctions and differences in individuals' likelihood of avoiding detection," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 217-224, June.
  16. Keeler, Andrew G., 1991. "Noncompliant firms in transferable discharge permit markets: Some extensions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 180-189, September.
  17. Harford, Jon D., 1987. "Self-reporting of pollution and the firm's behavior under imperfectly enforceable regulations," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 293-303, September.
  18. Montgomery, W. David, 1972. "Markets in licenses and efficient pollution control programs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 395-418, December.
  19. Harford, Jon D., 1978. "Firm behavior under imperfectly enforceable pollution standards and taxes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 26-43, March.
  20. Malik Arun S., 1993. "Self-Reporting and the Design of Policies for Regulating Stochastic Pollution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 241-257, May.
  21. Devon Garvie & Andrew Keeler, 1993. "Incomplete Enforcement with Endogenous Regulatory Choice," Working Papers 873, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  22. van Egteren, Henry & Weber, Marian, 1996. "Marketable Permits, Market Power, and Cheating," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 161-173, March.
  23. John K. Stranlund, 2006. "The Regulatory Choice of Noncompliance in Emissions Trading Programs," Working Papers 2006-7, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
  24. Franckx, Laurent, 2002. "The Use of Ambient Inspections in Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement When the Inspection Agency Cannot Commit Itself to Announced Inspection Probabilities," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 71-92, January.
  25. Grieson, Ronald E. & Singh, Nirvikar, 1990. "Regulating externalities through testing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 369-387, April.
  26. Montero, Juan-Pablo, 2002. "Prices versus quantities with incomplete enforcement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 435-454, September.
  27. Agnar Sandmo, 2002. "Efficient Environmental Policy with Imperfect Compliance," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 23(1), pages 85-103, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Carlos A. Chavez & John K. Stranlund, 2008. "A Note on Emissions Taxes and Incomplete Information," Working Papers 2008-5, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
  2. Villegas, Clara & Coria, Jessica, 2009. "Taxes, Permits, and the Adoptation of Abatement Technology under Imperfect Compliance," Discussion Papers dp-09-20-efd, Resources For the Future.
  3. Min Chen & Konstantinos Serfes, 2012. "Minimum quality standard regulation under imperfect quality observability," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 269-291, April.
  4. Clara Villegas-Palacio & Jessica Coria, 2010. "On the interaction between imperfect compliance and technology adoption: taxes versus tradable emissions permits," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 274-291, December.
  5. Stranlund, John K. & Moffitt, L. Joe, 2014. "Enforcement and price controls in emissions trading," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 20-38.
  6. David M. McEvoy & John K. Stranlund, 2007. "Costly Enforcement of Voluntary Environmental Agreements with Industries," Working Papers 2007-11, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
  7. John Stranlund & Carlos Chávez, 2013. "Who should bear the administrative costs of an emissions tax?," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 53-79, August.
  8. Marcelo Caffera & Carlos Chávez, 2011. "The Cost-Effective Choice of Policy Instruments to Cap Aggregate Emissions with Costly Enforcement," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 50(4), pages 531-557, December.
  9. John K. Stranlund, 2010. "Should We Impose Emissions Taxes That Firms Evade?," Working Papers 2010-4, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
  10. David McEvoy & John Stranlund, 2010. "Costly Enforcement of Voluntary Environmental Agreements," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 47(1), pages 45-63, September.

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