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Unintended Consequences from Nested State & Federal Regulations: The Case of the Pavley Greenhouse-Gas-per-Mile Limits

  • Lawrence H. Goulder
  • Mark R. Jacobsen
  • Arthur A. van Benthem
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    Fourteen U.S. states recently pledged to adopt limits on greenhouse gases (GHGs) per mile of light-duty automobiles. Previous analyses predicted this action would significantly reduce emissions from new cars in these states, but ignored possible offsetting emissions increases from policy-induced adjustments in new car markets in other (non-adopting) states and in the used car market. Such offsets (or "leakage") reflect the fact that the state-level effort interacts with the national corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard: the state-level initiative effectively loosens the national standard and gives automakers scope to profitably increase sales of high-emissions automobiles in non-adopting states. In addition, although the state-level effort may well spur the invention of fuel- and emissions-saving technologies, interactions with the federal CAFE standard limit the nationwide emissions reductions from such advances. Using a multi-period numerical simulation model, we find that 70-80 percent of the emissions reductions from new cars in adopting states are offset by emissions leakage. This research examines a particular instance of a general issue of policy significance - namely, problems from "nested" federal and state environmental regulations. Such nesting implies that similar leakage difficulties are likely to arise under several newly proposed state-level initiatives.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15337.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15337.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2009
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    Publication status: published as “Unintended Consequences from Nested State & Federal Environmental Regulation: The Case of the Pavley Greenhouse-Gas-per-Mile Limits” (with Mark R. Jacobsen and Arthur A. van Benthem), Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 63:187-207, March 2012.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15337
    Note: EEE LE PE
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