Publications – Working Papers

  • Annual Energy Outlook Projections and the Future of Solar PV Electricity

    Annual Energy Outlook Projections and the Future of Solar PV Electricity

    by Noah Kaufman | April 22nd, 2014

    The topic of this paper is the assumed growth of solar photovoltaic (PV) in current energy models, with a focus on information from Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). EIA resolves the difficulty of modeling solar energy into the future by assuming its current growth will not continue. However, EIA’s assumptions on the future costs of solar PV are highly pessimistic, and its methodology would appear to bias its “Reference Case” projections toward lower growth of solar energy. Sure enough, past AEOs have systematically underestimated the future growth of solar PV. Energy modelers therefore may need to adjust the AEO forecast in order to reflect a most likely baseline trajectory for solar PV.

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  • Rethinking Health-Based Environmental Standards

    Rethinking Health-Based Environmental Standards

    by Michael A. Livermore and Richard L. Revesz | April 9th, 2014

    In Whitman v. American Trucking, the Supreme Court interpreted the Clean Air Act to require the EPA to set the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), without considering costs. Instead, the agency must rely exclusively on health-related criteria. The authors argue that such health-based standards are problematic because there is no coherent way to set the permissible level of pollution based on health considerations alone and, ironically, the NAAQS have generally been set at levels that are inefficiently lax from an economic perspective. The authors urge a reinterpretation of the American Trucking case that would allow the EPA to consider costs-benefit analysis when it would lead to more stringent standards, as it currently does for most regulated pollutants.

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  • Quantifying Regulatory Benefits

    Quantifying Regulatory Benefits

    by Richard L. Revesz | January 7th, 2014

    The author responds to an argument made by Cass Sunstein that administrative agencies should use breakeven analysis when unable to quantify benefits of a specific regulation. Breakeven analysis seeks to determine how high nonquantifiable benefits of a regulation would have to be for the benefits to justify the costs. In this Comment, the author argues that breakeven analysis can be useful but is always a second-best technique. The first-best approach is to quantify the benefit.

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  • Cost-Benefit Analysis and Agency Independence

    Cost-Benefit Analysis and Agency Independence

    by Michael A. Livermore | January 7th, 2014

    In “Cost-Benefit Analysis and Agency Independence,” Professor Michael A. Livermore argues that cost-benefit analysis provides a standard that constrains the exercise of OIRA’s power, helping to preserve the autonomy of government agencies in the face of White House review. This argument challenges the prevailing view that cost-benefit analysis is a tool for the President to impose authority over executive agencies.

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  • Water Pollution and Regulatory Cooperation In China

    Water Pollution and Regulatory Cooperation In China

    by Hong Lan, Michael A. Livermore, and Craig A. Wenner | November 27th, 2013

    The costs of China’s record economic growth—including pollution—threaten to undercut its progress if left unchecked. Standing in the way of China’s efforts to control pollution is a complex political system of overlapping levels of local and national authorities. This paper examines recent efforts to address the ill-aligned incentives lead some officials to allow high levels of pollution.

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