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

  • Maureen L. Cropper
  • Yi Jiang
  • Anna Alberini
  • Patrick Baur

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 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 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 50 tons and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 42 tons per Code Red day at a permit price of $75. Allowing for non-compliance by 15 percent 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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15904.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Maureen Cropper & Yi Jiang & Anna Alberini & Patrick Baur, 2014. "Getting Cars Off the Road: The Cost-Effectiveness of an Episodic Pollution Control Program," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 57(1), pages 117-143, January.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15904
Note: EEE
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  1. 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 715-19, November.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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, 02.
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