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Clearing the Air? The Effects of Gasoline Content Regulation on Air Quality

  • Maximilian Auffhammer
  • Ryan Kellogg

This paper examines whether US gasoline content regulations, which impose substantial costs on consumers, have successfully reduced ozone pollution. We take advantage of spatial and temporal variation in the regulations' implementation to show that federal gasoline standards, which allow refiners flexibility in choosing a compliance mechanism, did not improve air quality. This outcome occurred because minimizing the cost of compliance does not reduce emissions of those compounds most prone to forming ozone. In California, however, we find that precisely targeted, inflexible regulations requiring the removal of particularly harmful compounds significantly improved air quality. (JEL L51, L71, L78, Q53, Q58)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.6.2687
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 6 (October)
Pages: 2687-2722

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:6:p:2687-2722
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  1. Brown, Jennifer & Hastings, Justine & Mansur, Erin T. & Villas-Boas, Sofia B., 2008. "Reformulating competition Gasoline content regulation and wholesale gasoline prices," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 1-19, January.
  2. Lucas W. Davis, 2008. "The Effect of Driving Restrictions on Air Quality in Mexico City," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(1), pages 38-81, 02.
  3. 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.
  4. Enrico Moretti & Matthew Neidell, 2009. "Pollution, Health, and Avoidance Behavior: Evidence from the Ports of Los Angeles," NBER Working Papers 14939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "Air Quality, Infant Mortality, and the Clean Air Act of 1970," Working Papers 0406, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  6. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 1998. "Does Air Quality Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 6826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
  9. Greenstone, Michael, 2004. "Did the Clean Air Act cause the remarkable decline in sulfur dioxide concentrations?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 585-611, May.
  10. Erich J. Muehlegger, 2004. "Gasoline Price Spikes and Regional Gasoline Content Regulations - A Structural Approach," Working Papers 0421, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  11. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Nauges, Celine & Thomas, Alban, 2008. "Clean Air regulation and heterogeneity in US gasoline prices," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 106-122, January.
  12. Matthew Neidell, 2009. "Information, Avoidance Behavior, and Health: The Effect of Ozone on Asthma Hospitalizations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(2).
  13. Arellano, M, 1987. "Computing Robust Standard Errors for Within-Groups Estimators," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 49(4), pages 431-34, November.
  14. Neidell, Matthew J., 2004. "Air pollution, health, and socio-economic status: the effect of outdoor air quality on childhood asthma," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 1209-1236, November.
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