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

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Listed:
  • Maximilian Auffhammer
  • Ryan Kellogg

Abstract

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)

Suggested Citation

  • Maximilian Auffhammer & Ryan Kellogg, 2011. "Clearing the Air? The Effects of Gasoline Content Regulation on Air Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2687-2722, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:6:p:2687-2722
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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, February.
    2. Maximilian Auffhammer & Ryan Kellogg, 2011. "Clearing the Air? The Effects of Gasoline Content Regulation on Air Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2687-2722, October.
    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. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2005. "Does Air Quality Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 376-424, April.
    5. 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.
    6. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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 431-434, November.
    11. Enrico Moretti & Matthew Neidell, 2011. "Pollution, Health, and Avoidance Behavior: Evidence from the Ports of Los Angeles," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(1), pages 154-175.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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).
    15. 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 201-209, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L71 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Hydrocarbon Fuels
    • L78 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Government Policy
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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