Evaluating Environmental Policy in the 50 States

by Shelby R. Steuart

SPIA researcher and professor, Dr. Jamie Monogan, has spent a lot of time in his career doing environmental research. Last year Monogan’s research led to findings indicating that states put the factories that produce the most air pollution near their downwind borders so that neighboring states have to bear the brunt of the pollution. Monogan’s paper on the topic, “Gone with the Wind: Federalism and the Strategic Placement of Air Polluters” won the State Politics and Policy Section of the American Political Science Association’s Best Paper Award.

This year, he’s been focusing on the electricity market and how reforming the market can lead to decreases in carbon emissions outputs.

Monogan presented a paper entitled “The Impact of Electricity Market Reform on Carbon Dioxide Emissions by the U.S.” at the State Politics and Policy Conference in June. He co-authored this paper with Takako Wakiyama and Eric Zusman, two policy researchers at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies in Hayama, Japan. Monogan, Wakiyama, and Zusman started this research because they wanted to get a sense of how reforming the market and changes in prices affect the output of carbon emissions.

They found that opening up cross-state competition in the supply of electricity to energy companies prompts innovation and results in changes in costs for consumers and changes in carbon emissions. Thus, market reforms that give consumers and wholesalers more options and encourage competition, also can lead to decreased carbon emissions. However, some reforms are better than others.

Monogan explains that historically the U.S. energy market has been monopolized by vertically-integrated companies that dominate a geographic area. But with the increased popularity of sharing electricity across state borders, a lot of new cleaner energy and renewable options are surfacing. “In particular, we’re finding that regional RTO, interstate cooperatives that facilitate power supplies or electricity supplies from one state to the other are allowing for a broader market, which is where you see carbon emissions going down.”

Monogan’s study also involved looking at different energy policies across the fifty states, comparing policies by their ability to lower carbon emissions. He found that some state policies, such as setting a target for a portion of electricity coming from renewables, lowers carbon emissions to a moderate degree. He will be presenting his findings at the Georgia Political Science Association meeting in Savannah in November.