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The SO2 Allowance Trading System: The Ironic History of a Grand Policy Experiment

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  • Richard Schmalensee
  • Robert Stavins

Abstract

Two decades have passed since the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 launched a grand experiment in market-based environmental policy: the SO2 cap-and-trade system. That system performed well but created four striking ironies. First, this system was put in place to curb acid rain, but the main source of benefits from it was unexpected. Second, a substantial source of this system’s cost-effectiveness was an unanticipated consequence of earlier railroad deregulation. Third, it is ironic that cap-and-trade has come to be demonized by conservative politicians in recent years, since this market-based, cost-effective policy innovation was initially championed and implemented by Republican administrations. Fourth, court decisions and subsequent regulatory responses have led to the collapse of the SO2 market, demonstrating that what the government gives, the government can take away.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18306.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18306

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References

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  1. 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.
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  3. 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.
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  8. Curtis Carlson & Dallas Burtraw & Maureen Cropper & Karen L. Palmer, 2000. "Sulfur Dioxide Control by Electric Utilities: What Are the Gains from Trade?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1292-1326, December.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. What Happened to the US Sulfur Emissions Market?
    by David Stern in Stochastic Trend on 2012-08-25 01:19:00
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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Cited by:
  1. Oskar Lecuyer & Philippe Quirion, 2012. "Can Uncertainty Justify Overlapping Policy Instruments to Mitigate Emissions?," Post-Print hal-00801927, HAL.
  2. Chan, Hei Sing (Ron) & Li, Shanjun & Zhang, Fan, 2013. "Firm competitiveness and the European Union emissions trading scheme," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1056-1064.
  3. repec:hal:ciredw:hal-00866440 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Burtraw, Dallas & Woerman, Matt, 2013. "Economic ideas for a complex climate policy regime," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages S24-S31.
  5. repec:hal:wpaper:hal-00866440 is not listed on IDEAS

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