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Interactions between State and Federal Climate Change Policies

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  • Lawrence H. Goulder

    (Stanford University National Bureau of Economic Research Resources for the Future)

  • Robert N. Stavins

    (John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Resources for the Future National Bureau of Economic Research)

Abstract

Federal action addressing climate change is likely to emerge either through new legislation or via the U.S. EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act. The prospect of federal action raises important questions regarding the interconnections between federal efforts and state-level climate policy developments. In the presence of federal policies, to what extent will state efforts be cost-effective? How does the co-existence of state- and federal-level policies affect the ability of state efforts to achieve emissions reductions? This paper addresses these questions. We find that state-level policy in the presence of a federal policy can be beneficial or problematic, depending on the nature of the overlap between the two systems, the relative stringency of the efforts, and the types of policy instruments engaged. When the federal policy sets limits on aggregate emissions quantities, or allows manufacturers or facilities to average performance across states, the emission reductions accomplished by a subset of U.S. states may reduce pressure on the constraints posed by the federal policy, thereby freeing facilities or manufacturers to increase emissions in other states. This leads to serious “emissions leakage” and a loss of cost-effectiveness at the national level. In contrast, when the federal policy sets prices for emissions or does not allow manufactures to average performance across states, these difficulties are usually avoided. Even in circumstances involving problematic interactions, there may be other attractions of state-level climate policy. We evaluate a number of arguments that have been made to support state-level climate policy in the presence of federal policies, even when problematic interactions arise.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2010.98.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2010.98

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Keywords: Global Climate Change; Federalism; Cap-And-Trade; Carbon Tax; Regulation;

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References

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  1. Elinor Ostrom, 2008. "A Polycentric Approach For Coping With Climate Change," CEMA Working Papers 578, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  2. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Parry, Ian W. H. & Williams III, Roberton C. & Burtraw, Dallas, 1999. "The cost-effectiveness of alternative instruments for environmental protection in a second-best setting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 329-360, June.
  3. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Jacobsen, Mark R. & van Benthem, Arthur A., 2012. "Unintended consequences from nested state and federal regulations: The case of the Pavley greenhouse-gas-per-mile limits," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 187-207.
  4. Stephen P. Holland & Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel, 2009. "Greenhouse Gas Reductions under Low Carbon Fuel Standards?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 106-46, February.
  5. Dallas Burtraw & William Shobe, 2008. "State and Local Climate Policy under a National Emissions Floor," Working Papers 2008-05, Center for Economic and Policy Studies.
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Cited by:
  1. Gabriel Chan & Robert Stavins & Robert Stowe & Richard Sweeney, 2012. "The SO2 Allowance Trading System and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: Reflections on Twenty Years of Policy Innovation," NBER Working Papers 17845, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Arik Levinson, 2011. "Comment on "Interactions between State and Federal Climate Change Policies "," NBER Chapters, in: The Design and Implementation of US Climate Policy, pages 122-125 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Galarraga, Ibon & Abadie, Luis M. & Ansuategi, Alberto, 2013. "Efficiency, effectiveness and implementation feasibility of energy efficiency rebates: The “Renove” plan in Spain," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages S98-S107.

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