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Prices vs. Quantities: Environmental Regulation and Imperfect Competition

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  • Erin T. Mansur

Abstract

In a market subject to environmental regulation, a firm's strategic behavior affects the production and emissions decisions of all firms. If firms are regulated by a Pigouvian tax, changing emissions will not affect the marginal cost of polluting. However, under a tradable permits system, the polluters' decisions affect the permit price. This paper shows that this feedback effect may increase a strategic firm's output. Relative to a tax, tradable permits improve welfare in a market with imperfect competition. As an application, I model strategic and competitive behavior of wholesalers in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland electricity market. Simulations suggest that exercising market power decreased local pollution by approximately nine percent, and therefore, substantially reduced the price of the region's pollution permits. Furthermore, I find that had regulators opted to use a tax instead of permits, the deadweight loss from imperfect competition would have been approximately seven percent greater.

Suggested Citation

  • Erin T. Mansur, 2007. "Prices vs. Quantities: Environmental Regulation and Imperfect Competition," NBER Working Papers 13510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13510
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barnett, A H, 1980. "The Pigouvian Tax Rule under Monopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 1037-1041, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jianqiao LIU & Gamal ATALLAH, "undated". "Tradable Permits Under Environmental and Cost-reducing R&D," EcoMod2009 21500059, EcoMod.
    2. Michael L. Polemis & Thanasis Stengos, 2017. "Does Competition Prevent Industrial Pollution? Evidence from a Panel Threshold Model," Working Paper series 17-07, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    3. Holland, Stephen P., 2012. "Emissions taxes versus intensity standards: Second-best environmental policies with incomplete regulation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 375-387.
    4. Anthony Heyes, 2009. "Is environmental regulation bad for competition? A survey," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 1-28, August.
    5. Stephen P. Holland, 2009. "Taxes and Trading versus Intensity Standards: Second-Best Environmental Policies with Incomplete Regulation (Leakage) or Market Power," NBER Working Papers 15262, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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