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Reducing Petroleum Consumption from Transportation

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  • Christopher R. Knittel

Abstract

The United States consumed more petroleum-based liquid fuel per capita than any other OECD-high-income country - 30 percent more than the second-highest country (Canada) and 40 percent more than the third-highest (Luxemburg). This paper examines the main channels through which reductions in U.S. oil consumption might take place: (a) increased fuel economy of existing vehicles, (b) increased use of non-petroleum-based low-carbon fuels, (c) alternatives to the internal combustion engine, and (d) reduced vehicles miles travelled. I then discuss how the policies for reducing petroleum consumption used in the US compare with the standard economics prescription for using a Pigouvian tax to deal with externalities. Taking into account that energy taxes are a political hot button in the United States, and also considering some evidence that consumers may not correctly value fuel economy, I offer some thoughts about the margins on which policy aimed at reducing petroleum consumption would have the largest impact on economic efficiency.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher R. Knittel, 2012. "Reducing Petroleum Consumption from Transportation," NBER Working Papers 17724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17724
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Weinert, Jonathan X. & Lipman, Timothy, 2006. "An Assessment of the Near-Term Costs of Hydrogen Refueling Stations and Station Components," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt65f0n732, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    2. Stephen P. Holland & Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel & Nathan C. Parker, 2015. "Some Inconvenient Truths about Climate Change Policy: The Distributional Impacts of Transportation Policies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1052-1069, December.
    3. Christopher R. Knittel & Douglas L. Miller & Nicholas J. Sanders, 2016. "Caution, Drivers! Children Present: Traffic, Pollution, and Infant Health," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(2), pages 350-366, May.
    4. Ian W. H. Parry & Kenneth A. Small, 2009. "Should Urban Transit Subsidies Be Reduced?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 700-724, June.
    5. Kenneth A. Small & Kurt Van Dender, 2007. "Fuel Efficiency and Motor Vehicle Travel: The Declining Rebound Effect," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 25-52.
    6. Daniel J. Graham & Stephen Glaister, 2002. "The Demand for Automobile Fuel: A Survey of Elasticities," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 36(1), pages 1-25, January.
    7. Janet Currie & Reed Walker, 2011. "Traffic Congestion and Infant Health: Evidence from E-ZPass," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 65-90, January.
    8. Richard S.J. Tol, 2011. "The Social Cost of Carbon," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 419-443, October.
    9. Michael Greenstone & Elizabeth Kopits & Ann Wolverton, 2011. "Estimating the Social Cost of Carbon for Use in U.S. Federal Rulemakings: A Summary and Interpretation," NBER Working Papers 16913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Hunt Allcott & Nathan Wozny, 2014. "Gasoline Prices, Fuel Economy, and the Energy Paradox," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(5), pages 779-795, December.
    11. Meghan R. Busse & Christopher R. Knittel & Florian Zettelmeyer, 2009. "Pain at the Pump: The Differential Effect of Gasoline Prices on New and Used Automobile Markets," NBER Working Papers 15590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Shanjun Li & Christopher Timmins & Roger H. von Haefen, 2009. "How Do Gasoline Prices Affect Fleet Fuel Economy?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 113-137, August.
    13. Delucchi, Mark, 2005. "A Multi-Country Analysis Of Lifecycle Emissions From Transportation Fuels And Motor Vehicles," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt5x20v080, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    14. Christopher R. Knittel & Ryan Sandler, 2011. "Cleaning the Bathwater with the Baby: The Health Co-Benefits of Carbon Pricing in Transportation," NBER Working Papers 17390, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel & Daniel Sperling, 2008. "Evidence of a Shift in the Short-Run Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 29(1), pages 113-134.
    16. Christopher R. Knittel & Ryan Sandler, 2011. "Carbon Prices and Automobile Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Extensive and Intensive Margins," NBER Chapters,in: The Design and Implementation of U.S. Climate Policy, pages 287-299 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Austin, David & Dinan, Terry, 2005. "Clearing the air: The costs and consequences of higher CAFE standards and increased gasoline taxes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 562-582, November.
    18. Christopher R. Knittel, 2011. "Automobiles on Steroids: Product Attribute Trade-Offs and Technological Progress in the Automobile Sector," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3368-3399, December.
    19. Delucchi, Mark, 2005. "A Multi-Country Analysis of Lifecycle Emissions From Transportation Fuels and Motor Vehicles," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt8nf3606c, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    20. Searchinger, Timothy & Heimlich, Ralph & Houghton, R. A. & Dong, Fengxia & Elobeid, Amani & Fabiosa, Jacinto F. & Tokgoz, Simla & Hayes, Dermot J. & Yu, Hun-Hsiang, 2008. "Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12881, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    21. Delucchi, Mark, 2005. "A Multi-Country Analysis of Lifecycle Emissions From Transportation Fuels and Motor Vehicles," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt1z392071, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    22. Lipman, T E & Weinert, Jonathan X., 2006. "An Assessment of the Near-Term Costs of Hydrogen Refueling Stations and Station Components," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt51c0937x, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
    • L0 - Industrial Organization - - General
    • L4 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • L9 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities
    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics

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