Acton Institute Powerblog

Is it cleaner to trade pollution?

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

Note: This is post #40 in a weekly video series on basic microeconomics.

In an effort to reduce pollution, the government tried two policy prescriptions under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, notes Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution University. The first—command and control—mandated that each power plant lower its pollution by a determined amount. However, different firms face different cost curves and, because information is dispersed, policymakers don’t always know those costs. The second policy prescription—tradable pollution permits—empowered firms to use knowledge of their cost curves to buy or sell pollution permits as needed. Guess which worked best?

(If you find the pace of the videos too slow, I’d recommend watching them at 1.5 to 2 times the speed. You can adjust the speed at which the video plays by clicking on “Settings” (the gear symbol) and changing “Speed” from normal to 1.25, 1.5 or 2.)

Previous in series: Bees, Pollination, and the Coase Theorem

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

Comments