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Growing state–federal conflicts in environmental policy: The role of market-based regulation

  • Williams, Roberton C.

In recent years, cases in which state governments chose to override federal environmental regulation with tighter regulations of their own have become increasingly common, even for pollutants that have substantial spillovers across states. This paper argues that this change arose at least in part because of a shift in the type of regulation used at the federal level, from command-and-control regulation toward more incentive-based regulation. Under an incentive-based federal regulation, a state imposing a tighter regulation will bear only part of the additional cost, and thus has more incentive to tighten regulation than it does under federal command-and-control. This difference helps to explain observed patterns of regulation. In addition, it has implications for the choice of regulatory instruments. For a pollutant that causes both local and spillover damage, a federal pollution tax is likely to yield a more efficient outcome than federal command-and-control policy or a federal system of tradable permits.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 96 (2012)
Issue (Month): 11 ()
Pages: 1092-1099

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:96:y:2012:i:11:p:1092-1099
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Oates, Wallace, 2001. "A Reconsideration of Environmental Federalism," Discussion Papers dp-01-54, Resources For the Future.
  2. Oates, Wallace E. & Schwab, Robert M., 1988. "Economic competition among jurisdictions: efficiency enhancing or distortion inducing?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 333-354, April.
  3. Lawrence H. Goulder & Mark R. Jacobsen & Arthur A. van Benthem, 2009. "Unintended Consequences from Nested State & Federal Regulations: The Case of the Pavley Greenhouse-Gas-per-Mile Limits," NBER Working Papers 15337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Oates, Wallace E. & Portney, Paul R., 2003. "The political economy of environmental policy," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 325-354 Elsevier.
  5. Wellisch Dietmar, 1995. "Locational Choices of Firms and Decentralized Environmental Policy with Various Instruments," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 290-310, May.
  6. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
  7. Peter Cramton & Steven Stoft, 2010. "Price is a Better Climate Commitment," Papers of Peter Cramton 10pbcc, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 2010.
  8. William D. Nordhaus, 2006. "After Kyoto: Alternative Mechanisms to Control Global Warming," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 31-34, May.
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