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Escape from Third-Best: Rating Emissions for Intensity Standards

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  • Derek Lemoine

    () (University of Arizona)

Abstract

An increasingly common type of environmental policy instrument regulates the carbon intensity of transportation and electricity markets. In order to extend the policy’s scope beyond point-of-use emissions, regulators assign each potential fuel an emission intensity rating for use in calculating compliance. I show that welfare-maximizing ratings do not generally coincide with the best estimates of actual emissions. In fact, the regulator can achieve a higher level of welfare by properly selecting the emission ratings than possible by selecting only the level of the standard. Moreover, a fuel’s optimal rating can actually decrease when its estimated emission intensity increases. Numerical simulations of the California Low-Carbon Fuel Standard suggest that when recent scientific information increased the estimated emissions from conventional ethanol, regulators should have lowered ethanol’s rating (making it appear less emission-intensive) so that the fuel market would clear with a lower quantity.

Suggested Citation

  • Derek Lemoine, 2017. "Escape from Third-Best: Rating Emissions for Intensity Standards," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 67(4), pages 789-821, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:67:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0006-6
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-016-0006-6
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    Cited by:

    1. Rudik, Ivan, 2018. "Tradable credit markets for intensity standards," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 202-215.
    2. Lawrence H. Goulder & Marc A. C. Hafstead & Roberton C. Williams III, 2016. "General Equilibrium Impacts of a Federal Clean Energy Standard," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 186-218, May.
    3. Harrison Fell & Daniel Kaffine & Daniel Steinberg, 2017. "Energy Efficiency and Emissions Intensity Standards," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(S1), pages 201-226.
    4. Gabriel E Lade & C -Y Cynthia Lin Lawell & Aaron Smith, 2018. "Policy Shocks and Market-Based Regulations: Evidence from the Renewable Fuel Standard," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 100(3), pages 707-731.
    5. Lade, Gabriel E. & Lin Lawell, C.-Y. Cynthia, 2015. "The design and economics of low carbon fuel standards," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 91-99.
    6. Lade, Gabriel E & Lawell, C-Y Cynthia Lin, 2015. "Mandating green: On the Design of Renewable Fuel Policies and Cost Containment Mechanisms," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt5zj382t4, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    7. Lade, Gabriel & Lin, C.-Y. Cynthia & Smith, Aaron, 2014. "Policy Uncertainty under Market-Based Regulations: Evidence from the Renewable Fuel Standard," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170673, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Externality; Emission; Intensity; Rating; Second-best; Ethanol;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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