Researcher Profile

Professional headshot of Karen L. Palmer

Karen L. Palmer

Senior Fellow

Topics of Interest

Palmer has been a researcher at RFF for more than 20 years and is the first recipient of the Darius Gaskins Chair. She specializes in the economics of environmental and public utility regulation, particularly on issues at the intersection of air quality regulation and the electricity sector. Her work seeks to improve the design of incentive-based environmental regulations that influence the electric utility sector, including controls of multi-pollutants and carbon emissions from electrical generating plants. To this end, she identifies cost-effective approaches to allocating emissions allowances, explores policies targeting carbon emissions and other air pollutants, and efficient ways to promote use of renewable sources of electricity. 
Palmer’s work has direct links to debates on the design of a federal cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions and regional efforts to control releases of CO2 – including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the northeastern United States and the implementation of AB32 legislation in California. She is a co-author of the book Alternating Currents: Electricity Markets and Public Policy, published by RFF Press in 2002.
Before joining RFF in 1989, Palmer was a teaching fellow at Boston College and a staff economist at Data Resources, Inc. In 1996-1997, she was a visiting economist in the Office of Economic Policy at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Palmer is in RFF’s Energy and Climate Program.


PhD in economics, Boston College, 1990
BA in economics, Brandeis University, 1981

Selected Work

See all work by Karen L. Palmer