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The SO2 Allowance Trading System and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: Reflections on Twenty Years of Policy Innovation

  • Gabriel Chan
  • Robert Stavins
  • Robert Stowe
  • Richard Sweeney

The introduction of the U.S. SO2 allowance-trading program to address the threat of acid rain as part of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 is a landmark event in the history of environmental regulation. The program was a great success by almost all measures. This paper, which draws upon a research workshop and a policy roundtable held at Harvard in May 2011, investigates critically the design, enactment, implementation, performance, and implications of this path-breaking application of economic thinking to environmental regulation. Ironically, cap and trade seems especially well suited to addressing the problem of climate change, in that emitted greenhouse gases are evenly distributed throughout the world's atmosphere. Recent hostility toward cap and trade in debates about U.S. climate legislation may reflect the broader political environment of the climate debate more than the substantive merits of market-based regulation.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17845.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17845.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Publication status: published as AThe SO2 Allowance Trading System and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: Reflections on 20 Years of Policy Innovation.@ National Tax Journal 65(2), June 2012, pp. 419-452. With G. Chan, R. Stowe, and R. Sweeney. [A-72]
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17845
Note: EEE IO PE POL
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  9. Lawrence Goulder & Robert Stavins, 2010. "Interactions Between State and Federal Climate Change Policies," Discussion Papers 09-027, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
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  11. Nathaniel O. Keohane, 2003. "What Did the Market Buy? Cost Savings Under the U. S. Tradeable Permits Program for Sulfur Dioxide," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm437, Yale School of Management.
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  16. Ian Lange & Allen Bellas, 2005. "Technological Change for Sulfur Dioxide Scrubbers under Market-Based Regulation," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 81(4).
  17. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Shih, Jhih-Shyang, 2005. "Reducing Emissions from the Electricity Sector: The Costs and Benefits Nationwide and for the Empire State," Discussion Papers dp-05-23, Resources For the Future.
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  24. Cynthia Morgan & Ronald J. Shadbegian & Wayne B. Gray, 2005. "Benefits and Costs from Sulfur Dioxide Trading: A Distributional Analysis," NCEE Working Paper Series 200509, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Dec 2005.
  25. Robert W. Hahn & Richard L. Schmalensee & Roger Noll & Robert Stavins & Lester B. Lave & George C. Eads & Milton Russell & V. Kerry Smith & Maureen L. Cropper & Paul R. Portney & Kenneth J. Arrow, 1996. "Benefit-Cost Analysis in Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulation," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 51790, 6.
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