Pollution Markets and the EPA

Summary: A research project originally conceived in collaboration with Wendy Espeland, looking at the creation of pollution allowances in Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. These allowances have become the demonstration project to show the effectiveness of market-based solutions to environmental problems. We show how the commodity was created, using commensuration as a key concept to demonstrate the process of transforming a social problem into an economic commodity.

As market-based solutions have become increasingly popular, it is worth noting that a) the devil is most certainly in the details of the programs; and that b) these solutions have the effect of transforming environmental politics in addition to changing incentives and costs around environmental pollution.

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