Getting Cars Off the Road: The Cost-Effectiveness of an Episodic Pollution Control Program

Maureen Cropper, Anna Alberini, Yi Jiang, Patrick Baur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Ground-level ozone remains a serious problem in the United States. Because ozone non-attainment
is a summer problem, episodic rather than continuous controls of ozone precursors are possible. We
evaluate the costs and effectiveness of an episodic scheme that requires people to buy permits to drive
on high-ozone days. We estimate the demand function for permits based on a survey of 1,300 households
in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. Assuming that all vehicle owners comply with the scheme,
the permit program would reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 50 tons and nitrogen oxides
(NOx) by 42 tons per Code Red day at a permit price of $75. Allowing for non-compliance by 15 percent
of respondents reduces the effectiveness of the scheme to 39 tons of VOCs and 33 tons of NOx per
day. The cost per ozone season of achieving these reductions is approximately $9 million (2008 USD).
This compares favorably with permanent methods of reducing VOCs that cost $645 per ton per year.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5904
Pages (from-to)117-143
JournalEnvironmental and Resource Economics
Issue number1
Early online date01 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


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