Using non market valuation to inform the choice between permits and fees in environmental regulation

  • Loomis J
  • Allen B
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Abstract

The purpose of this short note is to open an exploration regarding the use of non market valuation to help guide the selection of economically efficient pollution control instruments. As long as non market valuation techniques can correctly estimate the slope of the marginal benefit of abatement curve, this information along with engineering cost estimates of the unit costs or slope of the marginal abatement cost will provide useful information to policy makers in choosing between fees and permits. An illustrative review of the literature suggests that both stated and revealed preference methods have estimated slopes of marginal benefit functions for reducing several pollutants. To investigate the efficiency of permits versus fees, an illustrative review of corresponding marginal abatement costs is also made. For air pollutants affecting visibility, the slope of the marginal benefit curve is far greater than the slope of the marginal abatement costs, suggesting permits as the efficient instrument. For nitrates in groundwater used for drinking, the marginal benefit curve is flatter than the rather steep marginal abatement cost, suggesting fees/taxes would be a more efficient economic instrument. We hope this note stimulates more emphasis in non market valuation on estimating the slope of the marginal benefit function to enhance environmental economists ability to make policy recommendations regarding the choice of pollution instruments for specific pollutants. Keywords Emission permits - Non market valuation - Pollution taxes

Author-supplied keywords

  • Emission permits
  • Non market valuation
  • Pollution taxes

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Authors

  • John B. Loomis

  • Bryon Allen

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