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Cooperative and Market-Based Solutions to Pollution Abatement Problems


Fine, Leslie Rachel (2001) Cooperative and Market-Based Solutions to Pollution Abatement Problems. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/hx59-2c08.


This work concerns itself with the possibility of solutions, both cooperative and market based, to pollution abatement problems. In particular, we are interested in pollutant emissions in Southern California and possible solutions to the abatement problems enumerated in the 1990 Clean Air Act. A tradable pollution permit program has been implemented to reduce emissions, creating property rights associated with various pollutants.

Before we discuss the performance of market-based solutions to LA's pollution woes, we consider the existence of cooperative solutions. In Chapter 2, we examine pollutant emissions as a trans boundary public bad. We show that for a class of environments in which pollution moves in a bi-directional, acyclic manner, there exists a sustainable coalition structure and associated levels of emissions. We do so via a new core concept, one more appropriate to modeling cooperative emissions agreements (and potential defection from them) than the standard definitions.

However, this leaves the question of implementing pollution abatement programs unanswered. While the existence of a cost-effective permit market equilibrium has long been understood, the implementation of such programs has been difficult. The design of Los Angeles' REgional CLean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM) alleviated some of the implementation problems, and in part exacerbated them. For example, it created two overlapping cycles of permits and two zones of permits for different geographic regions. While these design features create a market that allows some measure of regulatory control, they establish a very difficult trading environment with the potential for inefficiency arising from the transactions costs enumerated above and the illiquidity induced by the myriad assets and relatively few participants in this market.

It was with these concerns in mind that the ACE market (Automated Credit Exchange) was designed. The ACE market utilizes an iterated combined-value call market (CV Market). Before discussing the performance of the RECLAIM program in general and the ACE mechanism in particular, we test experimentally whether a portfolio trading mechanism can overcome market illiquidity. Chapter 3 experimentally demonstrates the ability of a portfolio trading mechanism to overcome portfolio rebalancing problems, thereby inducing sufficient liquidity for markets to fully equilibrate.

With experimental evidence in hand, we consider the CV Market's performance in the real world. We find that as the allocation of permits reduces to the level of historical emissions, prices are increasing. As of April of this year, prices are roughly equal to the cost of the Best Available Control Technology (BACT). This took longer than expected, due both to tendencies to mis-report emissions under the old regime, and abatement technology advances encouraged by the program. Vve also find that the ACE market provides liquidity where needed to encourage long-term planning on behalf of polluting facilities.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:pollution abatement market solutions ; Social Sciences
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Social Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Ledyard, John O.
Thesis Committee:
  • Ledyard, John O. (chair)
  • Jackson, Matthew O.
  • Kiewiet, D. Roderick
  • Wilkie, Simon J.
Defense Date:1 December 2000
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:03242014-135929077
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8160
Deposited On:24 Mar 2014 22:23
Last Modified:24 Aug 2022 23:14

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