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Second-best biofuel policies and the welfare effects of quantity mandates and subsidies

  • Lapan, Harvey
  • Moschini, GianCarlo

The quest for biorenewable energy sources is held to justify a number of government interventions, including support policies for biofuels such as those responsible for the recent rapid growth of US ethanol production. This article provides an analytical assessment of such policies. We construct a general equilibrium, open economy model that captures the rationale typically invoked to justify government intervention in this setting: to alleviate the environmental impact of energy consumption and to decrease US energy dependence on foreign sources. The model is used to study both the positive and normative implications of alternative policy instruments, including the subsidies and mandates specified by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. From a positive perspective, we find that biofuels mandates are equivalent to a combination of fuel taxes and biofuels subsidies that are revenue neutral. From a welfare perspective, we show that biofuels mandates dominate biofuels subsidies, and that combining fuel taxes with mandates would be welfare enhancing.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0095069611001240
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.

Volume (Year): 63 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 224-241

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:63:y:2012:i:2:p:224-241
DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2011.10.001
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622870

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  1. Cui, Jingbo & Lapan, Harvey E. & Moschini, GianCarlo & Cooper, Joseph C., 2010. "Welfare impacts of alternative biofuel and energy policies," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61138, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  2. Rajagopal, Deepak & Zilberman, David, 2008. "Environmental, Economic and Policy Aspects of Biofuels," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 4(5), pages 353-468, October.
  3. Harry de Gorter & David R. Just, 2010. "The Social Costs and Benefits of Biofuels: The Intersection of Environmental, Energy and Agricultural Policy," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 32(1), pages 4-32.
  4. Ian W. H. Parry & Kenneth A. Small, 2005. "Does Britain or the United States Have the Right Gasoline Tax?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1276-1289, September.
  5. Eidman, Vernon R., 2007. "Economic Parameters for Corn Ethanol and Biodiesel Production," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 39(02), August.
  6. Lapan, Harvey E. & Moschini, GianCarlo, 2009. "Biofuels Policies and Welfare: Is the Stick of Mandates Better Than the Carrot of Subsidies?," Staff General Research Papers Archive 13076, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Stephen P. Holland & Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel, 2009. "Greenhouse Gas Reductions under Low Carbon Fuel Standards?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 106-46, February.
  8. Eidman, Vernon R., 2007. "Economic Parameters for Corn Ethanol and Biodiesel Production," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(02), pages 345-356, August.
  9. Farzad Taheripour, 2008. "Welfare Effects and Unintended Consequences of Ethanol Subsidies ," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 30(3), pages 411-421.
  10. Shapouri, Hosein & Duffield, James A. & Wang, Michael Q., 2002. "The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: An Update," Agricultural Economics Reports 34075, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  11. Searchinger, Timothy & Heimlich, Ralph & Houghton, R. A. & Dong, Fengxia & Elobeid, Amani & Fabiosa, Jacinto F. & Tokgoz, Simla & Hayes, Dermot J. & Yu, Hun-Hsiang, 2008. "Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12881, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  12. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W. H. Parry, 2008. "Instrument Choice in Environmental Policy," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(2), pages 152-174, Summer.
  13. Robert Hahn & Caroline Cecot, 2009. "The benefits and costs of ethanol: an evaluation of the government’s analysis," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 275-295, June.
  14. Thomas W. Hertel & Wallace E. Tyner & Dileep K. Birur, 2010. "The Global Impacts of Biofuel Mandates," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 75-100.
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