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The SO2 Allowance Trading System and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: Reflections on Twenty Years of Policy Innovation

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  • Gabriel Chan
  • Robert Stavins
  • Robert Stowe
  • Richard Sweeney

Abstract

The introduction of the U.S. SO2 allowance-trading program to address the threat of acid rain as part of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 is a landmark event in the history of environmental regulation. The program was a great success by almost all measures. This paper, which draws upon a research workshop and a policy roundtable held at Harvard in May 2011, investigates critically the design, enactment, implementation, performance, and implications of this path-breaking application of economic thinking to environmental regulation. Ironically, cap and trade seems especially well suited to addressing the problem of climate change, in that emitted greenhouse gases are evenly distributed throughout the world’s atmosphere. Recent hostility toward cap and trade in debates about U.S. climate legislation may reflect the broader political environment of the climate debate more than the substantive merits of market-based regulation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17845.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Publication status: published as AThe SO2 Allowance Trading System and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: Reflections on 20 Years of Policy Innovation.@ National Tax Journal 65(2), June 2012, pp. 419-452. With G. Chan, R. Stowe, and R. Sweeney. [A-72]
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17845

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References

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  1. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Stavins, Robert N., 2010. "Interactions between State and Federal Climate Change Policies," Working Paper Series rwp10-028, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Cornell, N. & Noll, Roger G. & Weingast, B., . "Safety Regulation," Working Papers 122, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  3. Stavins, Robert, 2000. "Experience with Market-Based Environmental Policy Instruments," Working Paper Series rwp00-004, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  4. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Cropper, Maureen & Carlson, Curtis, 1998. "Sulfur-Dioxide Control By Electric Utilities: What Are the Gains from Trade?," Discussion Papers dp-98-44-rev, Resources For the Future.
  5. Nathaniel O. Keohane, 2003. "What Did the Market Buy? Cost Savings Under the U. S. Tradeable Permits Program for Sulfur Dioxide," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm437, Yale School of Management.
  6. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Shih, Jhih-Shyang, 2005. "Reducing Emissions from the Electricity Sector: The Costs and Benefits Nationwide and for the Empire State," Discussion Papers dp-05-23, Resources For the Future.
  7. Cynthia Morgan & Ronald J. Shadbegian & Wayne B. Gray, 2005. "Benefits and Costs from Sulfur Dioxide Trading: A Distributional Analysis," NCEE Working Paper Series 200509, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Dec 2005.
  8. Ellerman,A. Denny & Joskow,Paul L. & Schmalensee,Richard & Montero,Juan-Pablo & Bailey,Elizabeth M., 2005. "Markets for Clean Air," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521023894, October.
    • Ellerman,A. Denny & Joskow,Paul L. & Schmalensee,Richard & Montero,Juan-Pablo & Bailey,Elizabeth M., 2000. "Markets for Clean Air," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521660839, October.
  9. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Kahn, Danny, 2010. "A symmetric safety valve," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 4921-4932, September.
  10. Robert W. Hahn & Robert N. Stavins, 2010. "The Effect of Allowance Allocations on Cap-and-Trade System Performance," NBER Working Papers 15854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Richard Schmalensee & Paul L. Joskow & A. Denny Ellerman & Juan Pablo Montero & Elizabeth M. Bailey, 1998. "An Interim Evaluation of Sulfur Dioxide Emissions Trading," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 53-68, Summer.
  12. Bohi, Douglas R. & Burtraw, Dallas, 1992. "Utility investment behavior and the emission trading market," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 129-153, April.
  13. Ian Lange & Allen Bellas, 2005. "Technological Change for Sulfur Dioxide Scrubbers under Market-Based Regulation," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 81(4).
  14. repec:reg:rpubli:47 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Stavins Robert N., 1995. "Transaction Costs and Tradeable Permits," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 133-148, September.
  16. H. Spencer Banzhaf & Dallas Burtraw & David Evans & Alan Krupnick, 2006. "Valuation of Natural Resource Improvements in the Adirondacks," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 82(3), pages 445-464.
  17. Bellas, Allen S. & Lange, Ian, 2011. "Evidence of Innovation and Diffusion Under Tradable Permit Programs," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 5(1), pages 1-22, May.
  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. Elaine Frey, 2008. "Technology Diffusion and Environmental Regulation: The Adoption of Scrubbers by Coal-Fired Power Plants," NCEE Working Paper Series 200804, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Mar 2008.
  20. Burtraw, Dallas & Szambelan, Sarah Jo, 2009. "U.S. Emissions Trading Markets for SO2 and NOx," Discussion Papers dp-09-40, Resources For the Future.
  21. repec:reg:rpubli:98 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Joskow, Paul L & Schmalensee, Richard & Bailey, Elizabeth M, 1998. "The Market for Sulfur Dioxide Emissions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 669-85, September.
  23. Burtraw, Dallas & Mansur, Erin, 1999. "The Effects of Trading and Banking in the SO2 Allowance Market," Discussion Papers dp-99-25, Resources For the Future.
  24. Arimura, Toshi H., 2002. "An Empirical Study of the SO2 Allowance Market: Effects of PUC Regulations," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 271-289, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Schmalensee, Richard & Stavins, Robert N., 2012. "The SO2 Allowance Trading System: The Ironic History of a Grand Policy Experiment," Working Paper Series rwp12-030, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Richard Schmalensee & Robert N. Stavins, 2013. "The SO 2 Allowance Trading System: The Ironic History of a Grand Policy Experiment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(1), pages 103-22, Winter.

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