IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

External Costs of Transporting Petroleum Products: Evidence from Shipments of Crude Oil from North Dakota by Pipelines and Rail


  • Karen Clay, Akshaya Jha, Nicholas Muller, and Randall Walsh


Using data for crude oil transported out of North Dakota in 2014, this paper constructs new estimates of the air pollution, greenhouse gas, and spill and accident costs from long-distance movement of petroleum products by rail and pipelines. Our analysis has three main findings. First, air pollution and greenhouse gas costs are nearly twice as large for rail as for pipelines. Second, air pollution and greenhouse gas costs are much larger than estimates of spill and accidents costs. Third, air pollution and greenhouse gas costs of transporting fuel by rail and pipelines are one-fifth to one-tenth of the costs of combusting fuel in motor vehicles. These results suggest that the policy debate surrounding crude oil transportation may be putting too much relative weight on spills and accidents, while overlooking a far more serious external cost: air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Suggested Citation

  • Karen Clay, Akshaya Jha, Nicholas Muller, and Randall Walsh, 2019. "External Costs of Transporting Petroleum Products: Evidence from Shipments of Crude Oil from North Dakota by Pipelines and Rail," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:ej40-1-clay

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to IAEE members and subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Alex Hollingworth & Taylor Jaworski & Carl Kitchens & Ivan Rudik, 2022. "Economic Geography and the Efficiency of Environmental Regulation," CESifo Working Paper Series 9644, CESifo.
    2. Holland, Stephen P. & Mansur, Erin T. & Muller, Nicholas Z. & Yates, Andrew J., 2021. "The environmental benefits of transportation electrification: Urban buses," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 148(PA).
    3. Harding, Matthew & Kettler, Kyle & Lamarche, Carlos & Ma, Lala, 2023. "The (alleged) environmental and social benefits of dynamic pricing," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 205(C), pages 574-593.
    4. Steve Cicala & Stephen P. Holland & Erin T. Mansur & Nicholas Z. Muller & Andrew J. Yates, 2020. "Expected Health Effects of Reduced Air Pollution from COVID-19 Social Distancing," NBER Working Papers 27135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Godzinski, Alexandre & Suarez Castillo, Milena, 2021. "Disentangling the effects of air pollutants with many instruments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 109(C).
    6. Amir Zeighami & Jordan Kern & Andrew J. Yates & Paige Weber & August A. Bruno, 2023. "U.S. West Coast droughts and heat waves exacerbate pollution inequality and can evade emission control policies," Nature Communications, Nature, vol. 14(1), pages 1-13, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aen:journl:ej40-1-clay. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: David Williams (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.