NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Looking Back at Fifty Years of the Clean Air Act

Joseph E. Aldy, Maximilian Auffhammer, Maureen L. Cropper, Arthur G. Fraas, Richard Morgenstern

NBER Working Paper No. 26687
Issued in January 2020
NBER Program(s):Environment and Energy Economics

Since 1970, transportation, power generation, and manufacturing have dramatically transformed as air pollutant emissions have fallen significantly. To evaluate the causal impacts of the Clean Air Act on these changes, we synthesize and review retrospective analyses of air quality regulations. The geographic heterogeneity in regulatory stringency common to many regulations has important implications for emissions, public health, compliance costs, and employment. Cap-and-trade programs have delivered greater emission reductions at lower cost than conventional regulatory mandates, but policy practice has fallen short of the cost-effective ideal. Implementing regulations in imperfectly competitive markets have also influenced the Clean Air Act’s benefits and costs.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26687

 
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