Performance of a cap and trade system for managing environmental impacts of shale gas surface infrastructure

TitlePerformance of a cap and trade system for managing environmental impacts of shale gas surface infrastructure
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMilt, A. W., and Armsworth P. R.
JournalEcological Economics
Number of Pages399-406
Date PublishedJan
Type of ArticleArticle
Reprint Number0921-8009
LTER Accession NumberWOS:000388248600036
KeywordsConservation planning; Spatial optimization, natural-gas; ecosystem services; instruments; market; biodiversity;, policy; emissions; fracking; states; risks, Shale energy; Shale gas infrastructure; Environmental policy;

Governments across the globe are exploring ways to reduce the environmental and human health impacts created by shale energy production. In active areas, environmental regulations tend to be limited. We apply established instruments to empirically estimated environmental impact abatement cost curves for the development of 56 sites in Pennsylvania, USA. We compare the cost to industry of setting a cap on environmental impacts from land-clearing and building of surface infrastructure under two regulations: cap and trade versus a uniform, inflexible regulation. Greatest differences in cost are achieved when firm-level permits are allocated to reduce market-wide potential impacts by 36%. Cap and trade achieved this cap at a cost of 0.05% of not developing and allowed all development to proceed. The uniform, inflexible regulation cost 32% of not developing for a similar outcome and prevented 18% of firms from developing. Cap and trade's performance depended on the regulator's ability to accurately allocate firm-level permits that reflect developers' options. In extreme cases, inaccurate allocations made cap and trade perform worse than other the approach. We conclude that, where developers differ in their ability and cost of minimizing impacts, cap and trade should be explored as an inexpensive alternative to traditional approaches. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Print Copy LocationEcol. Econ.