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Water Pollution Taxes: A Good Idea Doomed to Failure?

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  • Boyd, James

    () (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

Water pollution taxes, or effluent fees, have long been advocated by environmental economists as a regulatory approach to cost effectively achieve water quality improvements. The article reviews the arguments in favor of taxes and traces the history of the idea in U.S. policy debates. Particular attention is given to the institutional challenges presented by a tax system and its application in watershed contexts where transport phenomena are important. The article also addresses the question of why effluent taxes are so rarely seen in practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Boyd, James, 2003. "Water Pollution Taxes: A Good Idea Doomed to Failure?," Discussion Papers dp-03-20, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-03-20
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    File URL: http://www.rff.org/RFF/documents/RFF-DP-03-20.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin L. Weitzman, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 477-491.
    2. Segerson, Kathleen, 1988. "Uncertainty and incentives for nonpoint pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 87-98, March.
    3. Ronald C. Griffin & Daniel W. Bromley, 1982. "Agricultural Runoff as a Nonpoint Externality: A Theoretical Development," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 64(3), pages 547-552.
    4. JunJie Wu & Bruce Babcock, 2001. "Spatial Heterogeneity and the Choice of Instruments to Control Nonpoint Pollution," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 18(2), pages 173-192, February.
    5. Thomas Alban, 1995. "Regulating Pollution under Asymmetric Information: The Case of Industrial Wastewater Treatment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 357-373, May.
    6. Hans Th. A. Bressers, 1988. "A Comparison Of The Effectiveness Of Incentives And Directives: The Case Of Dutch Water Quality Policy," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 7(3), pages 500-518, March.
    7. Susan Rose-Ackerman, 1973. "Effluent Charges: A Critique," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 6(4), pages 512-528, November.
    8. Shortle, James S & Horan, Richard D, 2001. " The Economics of Nonprofit Pollution Control," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(3), pages 255-289, July.
    9. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
    10. Bohm, Peter & Russell, Clifford S., 1985. "Comparative analysis of alternative policy instruments," Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics,in: A. V. Kneeseā€  & J. L. Sweeney (ed.), Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 395-460 Elsevier.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sheila M. Olmstead, 2010. "The Economics of Water Quality," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(1), pages 44-62, Winter.
    2. repec:wsi:wepxxx:v:03:y:2017:i:02:n:s2382624x17710047 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Lori Bennear & Robert Stavins, 2007. "Second-best theory and the use of multiple policy instruments," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 111-129, May.
    4. repec:wsi:wepxxx:v:03:y:2017:i:02:n:s2382624x16500338 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    water quality; effluent fees; market-based incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy

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