Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 117–143 | Cite as

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

  • Maureen L. CropperEmail author
  • Yi Jiang
  • Anna Alberini
  • Patrick Baur


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 emissions reductions of a program 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 nitrogen oxides (\(\text{ NO }_{\mathrm{x}}\)) by 42 tons per Code Red day at a permit price of $75. Allowing for non-compliance by 15 % of respondents reduces the effectiveness of the scheme to 33 tons of \(\text{ NO }_{\mathrm{x}}\) per day. The cost per ozone season of achieving these reductions is approximately $9 million (2008 USD). Although year-round measures, such as the Tier II emissions standards, might be preferred on benefit-cost grounds, an episodic permit system might be considered as an interim measure before the Tier II emissions standards are fully reflected in the vehicle fleet.


Ground-level ozone Episodic pollution control schemes  Mobile sources Oxides of nitrogen \((\text{ NO }_{\mathrm{x}})\) Cost per ton of \(\text{ NO }_{\mathrm{x}}\) removed 

JEL Classification

Q52 Q53 Q58 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maureen L. Cropper
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yi Jiang
    • 2
  • Anna Alberini
    • 3
  • Patrick Baur
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.East Asia DepartmentAsian Development BankManilaPhilippines
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural and Resources EconomicsUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Environmental Science, Policy and ManagementUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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