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Biofuels Policies and Welfare: Is the Stick of Mandates Better Than the Carrot of Subsidies?

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  • Lapan, Harvey E.
  • Moschini, GianCarlo

Abstract

Significant government support for biofuels has led to rapid growth in U.S. ethanol production and research to develop more advanced biofuels. In this paper we construct a general equilibrium, open economy model that captures the rationale typically invoked to justify government intervention in this setting: to alleviate the environmental impact of energy consumption and to decrease U.S. energy dependence on foreign sources. The model is used to study both the positive and normative implications of alternative policy instruments, including the subsidies and mandates specified by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. From a positive perspective, we find that biofuels mandates are equivalent to a combination of fuel taxes and biofuels subsidies that are revenue neutral. From a welfare perspective, we show that biofuels mandates dominate biofuels subsidies, and that combining fuel taxes (rather than subsidies) with mandates would be welfare enhancing.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 13076.

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Date of creation: 09 Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:13076

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Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
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Fax: +1 515.294.0221
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Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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Related research

Keywords: Biofuels policies; Greenhouse gas emissions; Mandates; Second best; Subsidies; Welfare;

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References

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  1. Holland, Stephen P & Knittel, Christopher R & Hughes, Jonathan E., 2008. "Greenhouse Gas Reductions under Low Carbon Fuel Standards?," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt0177r7xp, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
  2. Harry de Gorter & David R. Just, 2008. "The Economics of a Blend Mandate for Biofuels," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(3), pages 738-750.
  3. Searchinger, Timothy & Heimlich, Ralph & Houghton, R. A. & Dong, Fengxia & Elobeid, Amani & Fabiosa, Jacinto F. & Tokgoz, Simla & Hayes, Dermot J. & Yu, Hun-Hsiang, 2008. "Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change," Staff General Research Papers 12881, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Hertel, Thomas W. & Tyner, Wallace E. & Birur, Dileep K., 2008. "Biofuels for all? Understanding the Global Impacts of Multinational Mandates," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6526, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  5. Parry, Ian & Small, Kenneth, 2002. "Does Britain or the United States Have the Right Gasoline Tax?," Discussion Papers dp-02-12-, Resources For the Future.
  6. Rajagopal, Deepak & Zilberman, David, 2007. "Review of environmental, economic and policy aspects of biofuels," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4341, The World Bank.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Drabik, Dusan & de Gorter, Harry, 2010. "Biofuels And Leakages In The Fuel Market," Proceedings Issues, 2010: Climate Change in World Agriculture: Mitigation, Adaptation, Trade and Food Security, June 2010, Stuttgart- Hohenheim, Germany 91265, International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium.
  2. Quentin Grafton & Tom Kompas & Ngo Van Long, 2012. "Substitution between bio-fuels and fossil fuels: is there a Green Paradox?," CIRANO Working Papers 2012s-10, CIRANO.
  3. Moschini, GianCarlo & Cui, Jingbo & Lapan, Harvey, 2012. "Economics of Biofuels: An Overview of Policies, Impacts and Prospects," Staff General Research Papers 35548, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Bullock, David S. & Couleau, Anabelle, 2012. "The U.S. Ethanol and Commodity Policy Labyrinth: Looking into Welfare Space to Analyze Policies that Combine Multiple Instruments," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126901, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  5. Bandyopadhyay, Subhayu & Bhaumik, Sumon & Wall, Howard J., 2010. "Biofuel subsidies and international trade," MPRA Paper 41491, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 21 Sep 2012.
  6. Rajagopal, Deepak & Zilberman, David, 2013. "On market-mediated emissions and regulations on life cycle emissions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 77-84.
  7. McPhail, Lihong Lu, 2011. "Assessing the impact of US ethanol on fossil fuel markets: A structural VAR approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1177-1185.
  8. Cui, Jingbo & Lapan, Harvey E. & Moschini, GianCarlo & Cooper, Joseph C., 2010. "Welfare impacts of alternative biofuel and energy policies," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61138, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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