Journal Article

A Proximate Mirror: Greenhouse Gas Rules and Strategic Behavior under the US Clean Air Act

Aug 27, 2015 | Dallas Burtraw, Karen L. Palmer, Sophie Pan, Anthony Paul


Current policy design options can provide real opportunities to advance climate goals effectively—if states can learn new strategies and engage in coalition building.


The development of climate policy in the United States mirrors international developments, with efforts to initiate a coordinated approach giving way to jurisdictions separately taking actions. The centerpiece of US policy is regulation in the electricity sector that identifies a carbon emissions rate standard (intensity standard) for each state but leaves to states the design of policies, including potentially the use of technology policies, emissions rate averaging, or cap and trade. Differences in policies among states within the same power market could promote predatory behavior resulting in a geographic shift in generation and investment in new resources. This paper examines the coordination problem using a detailed partial equilibrium model of operations and investment. We demonstrate that leading jurisdictions have available a rich set of design options that can protect them against strategic predation and, in fact, give them opportunities to proactively advance climate goals, to the economic detriment of laggards.