NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Nathan C. Parker

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Working Papers and Chapters

November 2013Unintended Consequences of Transportation Carbon Policies: Land-Use, Emissions, and Innovation
with Stephen P. Holland, Jonathan E. Hughes, Christopher R. Knittel: w19636
Renewable fuel standards, low carbon fuel standards, and ethanol subsidies are popular policies to incentivize ethanol production and reduce emissions from transportation. Compared to carbon trading, these policies lead to large shifts in agricultural activity and unexpected social costs. We simulate the 2022 Federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and find that energy crop production increases by 39 million acres. Land- use costs from erosion and habitat loss are between $277 and $693 million. A low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) and ethanol subsidies have similar effects while costs under an equivalent cap and trade (CAT) system are essentially zero. In addition, the alternatives to CAT magnify errors in assigning emissions rates to fuels and can over or under-incentivize innovation. These re...
September 2011Some Inconvenient Truths About Climate Change Policy: The Distributional Impacts of Transportation Policies
with Stephen P. Holland, Jonathan E. Hughes, Christopher R. Knittel: w17386
Instead of efficiently pricing greenhouse gases, policy makers have favored measures that implicitly or explicitly subsidize low carbon fuels. We simulate a transportation-sector cap & trade program (CAT) and three policies currently in use: ethanol subsidies, a renewable fuel standard (RFS), and a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS). Our simulations confirm that the alternatives to CAT are quite costly–2.5 to 4 times more expensive. We provide evidence that the persistence of these alternatives in spite of their higher costs lies in the political economy of carbon policy. The alternatives to CAT exhibit a feature that make them amenable to adoption–a right skewed distribution of gains and losses where many counties have small losses, but a smaller share of counties gain considerably–as much...

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