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Carbon Geography: The Political Economy of Congressional Support for Legislation Intended to Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Production

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  • Michael I. Cragg
  • Matthew E. Kahn

Abstract

Stringent regulation for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions will impose different costs across geographical regions. Low-carbon, environmentalist states, such as California, would bear less of the incidence of such regulation than high-carbon Midwestern states. Such anticipated costs are likely to influence Congressional voting patterns. This paper uses several geographical data sets to document that conservative, poor areas have higher per-capita carbon emissions than liberal, richer areas. Representatives from such areas are shown to have much lower probabilities of voting in favor of anti-carbon legislation. In the 111th Congress, the Energy and Commerce Committee consists of members who represent high carbon districts. These geographical facts suggest that the Obama Administration and the Waxman Committee will face distributional challenges in building a majority voting coalition in favor of internalizing the carbon externality.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael I. Cragg & Matthew E. Kahn, 2009. "Carbon Geography: The Political Economy of Congressional Support for Legislation Intended to Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Production," NBER Working Papers 14963, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14963
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E., 2010. "The greenness of cities: Carbon dioxide emissions and urban development," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 404-418, May.
    2. Gilbert E. Metcalf & Sergey Paltsev & John Reilly & Henry Jacoby & Jennifer F. Holak, 2008. "Analysis of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Tax Proposals," NBER Working Papers 13980, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Pashigian, B Peter, 1985. "Environmental Regulation: Whose Self-interests Are Being Protected?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(4), pages 551-584, October.
    4. Levitt, Steven D, 1996. "How Do Senators Vote? Disentangling the Role of Voter Preferences, Party Affiliation, and Senate Ideology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 425-441, June.
    5. Robert N. Stavins, 2008. "Addressing climate change with a comprehensive US cap-and-trade system," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 298-321, Summer.
    6. Joseph E. Aldy & William A. Pizer, 2009. "Issues in Designing U.S. Climate Change Policy," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 179-210.
    7. Burtraw, Dallas & Sweeney, Richard & Walls, Margaret, 2008. "The Incidence of U.S. Climate Policy: Where You Stand Depends on Where You Sit," Discussion Papers dp-08-28, Resources For the Future.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics

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