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The SO2 Allowance Trading System and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: Reflections on Twenty Years of Policy Innovation

  • Chan, Gabriel

    (Harvard University)

  • Stavins, Robert

    (Harvard University)

  • Stowe, Robert

    (Harvard University)

  • Sweeney, Richard

    (Harvard University)

The introduction of the U.S. SO2 allowance-trading program to address the threat of acid rain as part of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 is a landmark event in the history of environmental regulation. The program was a great success by almost all measures. This paper, which draws upon a research workshop and a policy roundtable held at Harvard in May 2011, investigates critically the design, enactment, implementation, performance, and implications of this path-breaking application of economic thinking to environmental regulation. Ironically, cap and trade seems especially well suited to addressing the problem of climate change, in that emitted greenhouse gases are evenly distributed throughout the world's atmosphere. Recent hostility toward cap and trade in debates about U.S. climate legislation may reflect the broader political environment of the climate debate more than the substantive merits of market-based regulation.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp12-003.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp12-003
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  1. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Stavins, Robert N., 2010. "Interactions between State and Federal Climate Change Policies," Working Paper Series rwp10-028, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Robert W. Hahn & Richard L. Schmalensee & Roger Noll & Robert Stavins & Lester B. Lave & George C. Eads & Milton Russell & V. Kerry Smith & Maureen L. Cropper & Paul R. Portney & Kenneth J. Arrow, 1996. "Benefit-Cost Analysis in Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulation," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 51790, September.
  3. Joskow, Paul L & Schmalensee, Richard & Bailey, Elizabeth M, 1998. "The Market for Sulfur Dioxide Emissions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 669-85, September.
  4. Cornell, N. & Noll, Roger G. & Weingast, B., . "Safety Regulation," Working Papers 122, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  5. repec:reg:rpubli:98 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Ian Lange & Allen Bellas, 2005. "Technological Change for Sulfur Dioxide Scrubbers under Market-Based Regulation," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 81(4).
  7. Robert W. Hahn & Robert N. Stavins, 2011. "The Effect of Allowance Allocations on Cap-and-Trade System Performance," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(S4), pages S267 - S294.
  8. Arimura, Toshi H., 2002. "An Empirical Study of the SO2 Allowance Market: Effects of PUC Regulations," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 271-289, September.
  9. Curtis Carlson & Dallas Burtraw & Maureen Cropper & Karen L. Palmer, 2000. "Sulfur Dioxide Control by Electric Utilities: What Are the Gains from Trade?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1292-1326, December.
  10. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Shih, Jhih-Shyang, 2005. "Reducing Emissions from the Electricity Sector: The Costs and Benefits Nationwide and for the Empire State," Discussion Papers dp-05-23, Resources For the Future.
  11. Bohi, Douglas R. & Burtraw, Dallas, 1992. "Utility investment behavior and the emission trading market," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 129-153, April.
  12. Daniel A. Farber & Anne Joseph O’Connell (ed.), 2010. "Research Handbook on Public Choice and Public Law," Books, Edward Elgar, number 12997, April.
  13. Richard Schmalensee & Paul L. Joskow & A. Denny Ellerman & Juan Pablo Montero & Elizabeth M. Bailey, 1998. "An Interim Evaluation of Sulfur Dioxide Emissions Trading," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 53-68, Summer.
  14. Stavins, Robert N., 2003. "Experience with market-based environmental policy instruments," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 355-435 Elsevier.
  15. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Kahn, Danny, 2010. "A symmetric safety valve," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 4921-4932, September.
  16. H. Spencer Banzhaf & Dallas Burtraw & David Evans & Alan Krupnick, 2006. "Valuation of Natural Resource Improvements in the Adirondacks," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 82(3), pages 445-464.
  17. Montgomery, W. David, 1972. "Markets in licenses and efficient pollution control programs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 395-418, December.
  18. Bellas, Allen S. & Lange, Ian, 2011. "Evidence of Innovation and Diffusion Under Tradable Permit Programs," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 5(1), pages 1-22, May.
  19. Elaine Frey, 2008. "Technology Diffusion and Environmental Regulation: The Adoption of Scrubbers by Coal-Fired Power Plants," NCEE Working Paper Series 200804, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Mar 2008.
  20. Cynthia Morgan & Ronald J. Shadbegian & Wayne B. Gray, 2005. "Benefits and Costs from Sulfur Dioxide Trading: A Distributional Analysis," NCEE Working Paper Series 200509, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Dec 2005.
  21. Burtraw, Dallas & Mansur, Erin, 1999. "The Effects of Trading and Banking in the SO2 Allowance Market," Discussion Papers dp-99-25, Resources For the Future.
  22. Nathaniel O. Keohane, 2003. "What Did the Market Buy? Cost Savings Under the U. S. Tradeable Permits Program for Sulfur Dioxide," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm437, Yale School of Management.
  23. Ellerman,A. Denny & Joskow,Paul L. & Schmalensee,Richard & Montero,Juan-Pablo & Bailey,Elizabeth M., 2005. "Markets for Clean Air," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521023894, October.
    • Ellerman,A. Denny & Joskow,Paul L. & Schmalensee,Richard & Montero,Juan-Pablo & Bailey,Elizabeth M., 2000. "Markets for Clean Air," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521660839, October.
  24. Stavins Robert N., 1995. "Transaction Costs and Tradeable Permits," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 133-148, September.
  25. repec:reg:rpubli:47 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Burtraw, Dallas & Szambelan, Sarah Jo, 2009. "U.S. Emissions Trading Markets for SO2 and NOx," Discussion Papers dp-09-40, Resources For the Future.
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