A new study by Evan Ringquist, professor in the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, finds the problem hasn't materialized -- that the efficiency gains of allowance trading have not come at the expense of equitable treatment of minorities and the poor.
"There is very little evidence that allowance trading causes 'hot spots,'" Ringquist said. "This study finds there is no inherent trade-off between efficiency and equity when using market-based instruments for pollution control."
The study, "Trading Equity for Efficiency in Environmental Protection? Environmental Justice Effects from the SO2 Allowance Trading Program," is scheduled for publication this spring in the journal Social Science Quarterly.
It focuses on the sulfur dioxide allowance trading program (ATP) established by 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act. The program created a market for trading pollution credits to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, which causes human health problems and acid rain that results in environmental damage.
While the sulfur dioxide program is the largest and most established U.S. market, there are regional markets for other regulated pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide. Domestic markets have been proposed to curb mercury pollution. And an international carbon market would be an element of a "cap and trade" initiative to slow climate change.
The idea behind emissions allowance trading is simple. Some firms and facilities can reduce their emissions by required amounts without facing excessive costs, but some can't. With a trading system, firms with low control costs will reduce pollution more than necessary and "sell" their excess credits. Firms with high costs will purchase permits rather than over-spend to reduce pollution.
The net result is the same as with a "command and control" program that requires across-the-board cuts for everyone. And the costs to society are smaller. Economists are happy.
But a trading program is likely to reduce pollution more in some locations than in others. Facilities that purchase allowances effectively "import" pollution to their region. Facilities that sell allowances, meanwhile, "export" pollution.
Environmental justice advocates have argued that pollution will be imported to urban centers and aging industrial areas, where polluting facilities have operated for years and the cost of reducing emissions is likely to be high. And it's in such areas, they say, that minority and low-income communities are more likely to live -- especially as white and middle-income residents have left the cities for the suburbs.
Previous studies, including a meta-analysis by Ringquist published in 2005, have found that poor people and minorities were more likely than others to live in polluted areas. So an allowance trading program, while reducing overall pollution, could make a bad situation worse for certain populations.
To examine the claim, Ringquist obtained trading records for all facilities participating in the sulfur dioxide allowance program between January 1995 and March 2009. He then used several statistical models to determine whether allowance trading tended to concentrate pollution in poor communities or communities of color.
He found that it did not. To the contrary, the data show that communities with high percentages of African-American and Hispanic residents experienced fewer imports of SO2 than did other areas.
The analysis does reveal one cause for concern, however: Allowance trading appears to concentrate SO2 emissions in areas with large percentages of people without a high-school education.
Ringquist said that finding suggests government regulators may want to design future emissions trading programs to make it easier for the effects to be monitored by nearby residents, including residents without a high level of education.
To speak with Ringquist, contact Jana Wilson at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, 812-856-5490 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For a copy of the study, contact Wilson or Steve Hinnefeld at University Communications, 812-856-3488 or email@example.com.
Jana Wilson | Newswise Science News
Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences