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Getting Cars Off the Road: The Cost-Effectiveness of an Episodic Pollution Control Program


  • Maureen L. Cropper

    (University of Maryland and Resources for the Future)

  • Yi Jiang

    (Asian Development Bank)

  • Anna Alberini

    (University of Maryland)

  • Patrick Baur

    (National Academy of Sciences)


Ground level ozone remains a serious problem in the United States. Because ozone non-attainment is a summer problem, episodic rather than continuous controls of ozone precursors are possible. We evaluate the costs and effectiveness of an episodic scheme that requires people to buy permits in order to drive on high ozone days. We estimate the demand function for permits based on a survey of 1,300 households in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Assuming that all vehicle owners comply with the scheme, the permit program would reduce VOCs by 50 tons and NOx by 42 tons per Code Red day at a permit price of $75. Allowing for non-compliance by 15% of respondents reduces the effectiveness of the scheme to 39 tons of VOCs and 33 tons of NOx per day. The cost per ozone season of achieving these reductions is approximately $9 million (2008 USD). This compares favorably with permanent methods of reducing VOCs that cost $645 per ton per year.

Suggested Citation

  • Maureen L. Cropper & Yi Jiang & Anna Alberini & Patrick Baur, 2010. "Getting Cars Off the Road: The Cost-Effectiveness of an Episodic Pollution Control Program," Working Papers 2010.46, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2010.46

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lucas W. Davis, 2008. "The Effect of Driving Restrictions on Air Quality in Mexico City," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(1), pages 38-81, February.
    2. Cutter, W. Bowman & Neidell, Matthew, 2009. "Voluntary information programs and environmental regulation: Evidence from 'Spare the Air'," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 253-265, November.
    3. Maximilian Auffhammer & Ryan Kellogg, 2011. "Clearing the Air? The Effects of Gasoline Content Regulation on Air Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2687-2722, October.
    4. Gary T. Henry & Craig S. Gordon, 2003. "Driving less for better air: Impacts of a public information campaign," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(1), pages 45-63.
    5. Krinsky, Itzhak & Robb, A Leslie, 1986. "On Approximating the Statistical Properties of Elasticities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(4), pages 715-719, November.
    6. Ronald Cummings & Mary Beth Walker, 2000. "Measuring the effectiveness of voluntary emission reduction programmes," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(13), pages 1719-1726.
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    Cited by:

    1. Viard, V. Brian & Fu, Shihe, 2015. "The effect of Beijing's driving restrictions on pollution and economic activity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 98-115.
    2. Blackman, Allen & Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Rivera Planter, Marisol, 2015. "A Contingent Valuation Approach to Estimating Regulatory Costs: Mexico’s Day Without Driving Program," Discussion Papers dp-15-21, Resources For the Future.

    More about this item


    Ground-Level Ozone; Episodic Pollution Control Schemes; Mobile Sources; Volatile Organic Compounds (Vocs); Cost Per Ton of Vocs Removed;

    JEL classification:

    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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