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The Institutional Blind Spot in Environmental Economics

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  • Burtraw, Dallas

    () (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

Economic approaches are expected to achieve environmental goals at less cost than traditional regulations, but they have yet to find widespread application. One reason is the way these tools interact with existing institutions. The federalist nature of governmental authority assigns to subnational governments much of the implementation of environmental policy and primary authority for planning the infrastructure that affects environmental outcomes. The federalist structure also interacts with the choice of economic instruments; a national emissions cap erodes the additionality of actions by subnational governments. Even the flagship application of sulfur dioxide emissions trading has been outperformed by the venerable Clean Air Act, and greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are on course to be less than they would have been if Congress had frozen emissions with a cap in 2009. The widespread application of economic tools requires a stronger political theory of how they interact with governing institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Burtraw, Dallas, 2012. "The Institutional Blind Spot in Environmental Economics," Discussion Papers dp-12-41, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-12-41
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    File URL: http://www.rff.org/RFF/documents/RFF-DP-12-41.pdf
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Why is there so little Economics in environmental policy?
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-10-04 19:11:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Michel Damian, 2014. "La politique climatique change enfin de paradigme," Post-Print halshs-00969308, HAL.
    2. Kathleen Segerson, 2013. "Voluntary Approaches to Environmental Protection and Resource Management," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 161-180, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    environmental federalism; additionality; emissions cap; Clean Air Act; sulfur dioxide; carbon dioxide;

    JEL classification:

    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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