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CARBON GEOGRAPHY: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT FOR LEGISLATION INTENDED TO MITIGATE GREENHOUSE GAS PRODUCTION

Authors

  • MICHAEL I. CRAGG,

    1. Cragg: The Brattle Group, 44 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Phone 617-864-7900, Fax 617-864-1576, E-mail Michael.cragg@brattle.edu
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  • YUYU ZHOU,

    1. Zhou: Joint Global Change Research Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, College Park, MD 20740. Phone 301-314-6771, E-mail Yuyu.zhou@pnnl.gov
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  • KEVIN GURNEY,

    1. Gurney: Arizona State University, PO Box 874501, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501. Phone 480-965-4556, E-mail kevin.gurney@asu.edu
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  • MATTHEW E. KAHN

    1. Kahn: Institute of the Environment, UCLA, La Kretz Hall, Ste 300, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496. Phone 310-794-4904, Fax 310-825-9663, E-mail mkahn@ioe.ucla.edu
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    • We thank the editor and the reviewers and Lucas Davis, Frank Graves, Gib Metcalf, Dean Murphy, and Jason Snyder for useful comments, and especially Jehan DeFonseka, Sin Han Lo, and Jessica Cameron for their research input. The views expressed in this paper, however, are strictly those of the authors and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of The Brattle Group, Inc., its clients, or UCLA.


Abstract

Over the last 5 years, the U.S. Congress has voted on several pieces of legislation intended to sharply reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. Given that climate change is a world public bad, standard economic logic would predict that the United States would “free ride” and wait for other nations to reduce their emissions. Within the Congress, there are clear patterns to who votes in favor of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. This paper presents a political economy analysis of the determinants of “pro-green” votes on such legislation. Conservatives consistently vote against such legislation. Controlling for a representative's ideology, representatives from richer districts and districts with a lower per-capita carbon dioxide footprint are more likely to vote in favor of climate change mitigation legislation. Representatives from districts where industrial emissions represent a larger share of greenhouse gas emissions are more likely to vote no. (JEL Q54, Q58, R50)

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