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Colombia's Discharge Fee Program: Incentives for Polluters or Regulators?

  • Blackman, Allen

    ()

    (Resources for the Future)

Colombia’s discharge fee system for water effluents is often held up as a model of a well-functioning, economic-incentive pollution control program in a developing country. Yet few objective, up-to-date evaluations of the program have appeared. Based on a variety of primary and secondary evaluative data, this paper finds that that the program has been beset by a number of serious problems including limited implementation in many regions, widespread noncompliance by municipal sewage authorities, and a confused relationship between discharge fees and discharge standards. Nevertheless, in several watersheds, pollution loads dropped significantly after the program was introduced. While proponents claim the incentives that discharge fees created for polluters to cut emissions in a cost-effective manner were responsible for this success, this paper argues that the incentives they created for regulatory authorities to improve permitting, monitoring, and enforcement were at least as important.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-05-31.

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Date of creation: 16 Jun 2005
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-05-31
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  1. Bohm, Peter & Russell, Clifford S., 1985. "Comparative analysis of alternative policy instruments," Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, in: A. V. Kneese† & J. L. Sweeney (ed.), Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 395-460 Elsevier.
  2. Sarah West & Ann Wolverton, 2003. "Market-Based Policies for Pollution Control in Latin America," NCEE Working Paper Series 200301, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Mar 2003.
  3. Blackman, Allen & Harrington, Winston, 1999. "The Use of Economic Incentives in Developing Countries: Lessons from International Experience with Industrial Air Pollution," Discussion Papers dp-99-39, Resources For the Future.
  4. Lyon, Randolph M., 1989. "Transferable discharge permit systems and environmental management in developing countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(8), pages 1299-1312, August.
  5. Baumol, William J, 1972. "On Taxation and the Control of Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(3), pages 307-22, June.
  6. Wang, Hua & Wheeler, David, 2005. "Financial incentives and endogenous enforcement in China's pollution levy system," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 174-196, January.
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