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Efficiency Costs of Meeting Industry-Distributional Constraints under Environmental Permits and Taxes


  • Bovenberg, A.L.

    (Tilburg University, Center For Economic Research)

  • Goulder, L.H.
  • Gurney, D.J.


Many pollution-related industries wield strong political influence and can e.ectively veto policy initiatives that would harm their profits.A politically realistic approach to environmental policy therefore seems to require the alleviation of significant profitlosses to these industries.The regulatory authority can do this by freely allocating some emissions permits or by exempting some inframarginal emissions from a pollution tax.However, such policies compel the government to forego an e.cient potential revenue source and to rely more heavily on ordinary distortionary taxes.As a result, achieving distributional objectives comes at a cost in terms of e.ciency.Using analytically and numerically solved equilibrium models, we analyze the e.- ciency costs implied by the distributional constraint that adverse impacts on profits in particular industries must be avoided.Both models indicate that the e.ciency cost implied by this constraint dwarfs the other e.ciency costs when the required amount of abatement is very small.When the abatement requirement becomes more extensive, however, the cost of this constraint diminishes relative to the other e.ciency costs of pollution-control.We also calculate the compensation ratio: the share of potential policy revenue that the government must forego to protect the industries in question.We show how this ratio is a.ected by the extent of abatement, supply and demand elasticities, and the potential for end-of-pipe treatment.One definition of this ratio corresponds to the share of pollution permits that must be freely allocated to prevent profit-losses in the targeted industries.Numerical simulations of sulfur dioxide pollution-control suggest that the Bush Administration s Clear Skies Initiative would exceed this ratio, freely allocating more permits than necessary to preserve profits.Our models also highlight significant di.erences between gross and net policy revenues: when abatement is extensive, a large fraction of the revenue collected from emissions permits or taxes is o.set by the revenue-loss from erosion of the base of existing factor taxes.

Suggested Citation

  • Bovenberg, A.L. & Goulder, L.H. & Gurney, D.J., 2003. "Efficiency Costs of Meeting Industry-Distributional Constraints under Environmental Permits and Taxes," Discussion Paper 2003-86, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiucen:b15fd965-9cdc-41d3-a4e9-df6445009839

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Parry, Ian W. H. & Williams III, Roberton C. & Burtraw, Dallas, 1999. "The cost-effectiveness of alternative instruments for environmental protection in a second-best setting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 329-360, June.
    2. Parry Ian W. H., 1995. "Pollution Taxes and Revenue Recycling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 64-77, November.
    3. Ian W.H. Parry & Wallace E. Oates, 2000. "Policy analysis in the presence of distorting taxes," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 603-613.
    4. Spencer Banzhaf, H. & Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen, 2004. "Efficient emission fees in the US electricity sector," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 317-341, September.
    5. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen L. & Bharvirkar, Ranjit & Paul, Anthony, 2002. "The Effect on Asset Values of the Allocation of Carbon Dioxide Emission Allowances," Discussion Papers 10705, Resources for the Future.
    6. Robert Chirinko & Steven M. Fazzari & Andrew P. Meyer, 2002. "That Elusive Elasticity: A Long-panel Approach to Estimating the Price Sensitivity of Business Capital," Emory Economics 0202, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
    7. Lawrence Goulder, 1995. "Environmental taxation and the double dividend: A reader's guide," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 2(2), pages 157-183, August.
    8. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Bharvirkar, Ranjit & Paul, Anthony, 2002. "The Effect on Asset Values of the Allocation of Carbon Dioxide Emission Allowances," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 51-62, June.
    9. Farrow, Scott, 1999. "The duality of taxes and tradable permits: A survey with applications in Central and Eastern Europe," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(04), pages 519-535, October.
    10. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W. H. Parry & Dallas Burtraw, 1996. "Revenue-Raising vs. Other Approaches to Environmental Protection: The Critical Significance of Pre-Existing Tax Distortions," NBER Working Papers 5641, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item


    efficiency; costs; environmental tax; pollution; environmental policy;

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies


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