IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ecl/harjfk/rwp10-044.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How Good Politics Results in Bad Policy: The Case of Biofuel Mandates

Author

Listed:
  • Lawrence, Robert Z.

    (Harvard Kennedy School)

Abstract

Biofuels have become big policy and big business. Government targets, mandates, and blending quotas have created a growing demand for biofuels. Some say that the U.S. biofuels industry was created by government policies. But recently, biofuels have become increasingly controversial. In this paper Lawrence argues that the growing list of concerns about the impact of biofuel targets and mandates--are the predictable result of a failure to follow the basic principles of good policy-making. Good policy-making requires developing a policy goal or target (i.e., reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing oil consumption, or increasing rural economic development) and designing an instrument to efficiently meet that particular goal. The more precise the goal, the better. In addition, for each target, there should be at least one policy instrument. You cannot meet two goals with only one instrument. Lawrence argues that the current U.S. biofuels mandates do not represent the most efficient or precise instrument to meet any of the policy's stated goals. While this paper argues against mandates, it should not be understood as an attack on all biofuels policies. Three are especially worthy of consideration. First, there are good reasons for the government to subsidize research on different alternative sources of energy such as biofuels. Second, there may be a role for government coordination and investment in biofuels infrastructure which are essentially public goods that private actors cannot undertake on their own. And third, there are also good reasons for removing the tariffs that are imposed by both the European Union and the United States on imported ethanol and biodiesel. These trade barriers not only reduce any potential environmental benefits that could be achieved from using these products, but also limit the development benefits than poor countries might enjoy from producing them.

Suggested Citation

  • Lawrence, Robert Z., 2010. "How Good Politics Results in Bad Policy: The Case of Biofuel Mandates," Working Paper Series rwp10-044, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp10-044
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/workingpapers/citation.aspx?PubId=7478&type=WPN
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Geir H. Bjertn├Žs, 2013. "Biofuel mandate versus favourable taxation of electric cars. The case of Norway," Discussion Papers 745, Statistics Norway, Research Department.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • L52 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Industrial Policy; Sectoral Planning Methods
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:ecl:harjfk:rwp10-044. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/ksharus.html .

    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 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.