Ongoing projects:

Regional Climate Policies & Decarbonizing Electricity

Local Impacts of Oil and Gas Production


Can Learning Explain Deterrence? Evidence from Oil & Gas ProductionJournal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 2019

Environmental Justice in Unconventional Oil and Gas Production: A Critical Review and Research Agenda (with Adrianne Kroepsch, John Adgate, Lisa McKenzie, and Katherine Dickinson), Environmental Science & Technology, 2019

Interfirm Learning in Environmental Safety: Evidence from the Bakken (with Mike Redlinger and Ian Lange), Applied Economics, 2019

An Examination of Geographic Heterogeneity in Price Effects of Superfund Site Remediation (with Ralph Mastromonaco), Economics Letters, 2018

Leakage in Regional Environmental Policy: The Case of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (with Harrison Fell), Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 2018

The Local Employment Impacts of Fracking: A National Study (with Ralph Mastromonaco), Resource and Energy Economics, 2017

Jurisdictional Tax Competition and the Division of Nonrenewable Resource Rents (with Dale Manning), Environmental and Resource Economics, 2017

An Estimate of the Producer Cost of Liability for Oil SpillsApplied Economics Letters, 2017

Why Have Greenhouse Emissions in RGGI States Declined? An Econometric Attribution to Economic, Energy Market and Policy Factors (with Brian Murray), Energy Economics: Volume 51, September 2015, Pages 581-589

Working Papers:

Costs of Increasing Oil and Gas Setbacks are Initially Modest but Rise Sharply (with Sean Ericson and Dan Kaffine)

Spatial setback rules are a common form of oil and gas regulation worldwide – they require minimum distances between oil and gas operations and homes and other sensitive locations. While setbacks can reduce exposure to potential harms associated with oil and gas production, they can also cause substantial quantities of oil and gas resources to be unavailable for extraction. Using both theoretical modeling and spatial analysis with GIS tools on publicly available data, we determine oil and gas resource loss under different setback distances, focusing on Colorado counties as a case study. We show that increasing setbacks results in small resource loss for setbacks up to 1500 feet, but resource loss quickly increases with longer setbacks. Approximately $5 billion in annual resource revenues would be lost in Colorado under 2500-foot setbacks, a distance recently proposed in Colorado Proposition 112 and California AB 345.

Updating Allowance Allocations in Cap-and-Trade: Evidence from the NOx Budget Program (with Ian Lange)

The level and distribution of the costs of tradable allowance schemes are important determinants of whether the regulation is ultimately enacted. Theoretical and simulation models have shown that updating allowance allocations based on firm emissions or output can improve the efficiency of the scheme by acting as a production subsidy. Using the U.S. NOx Budget Program (NBP) as a case study, this analysis tests whether power plants in states which chose an updating allocation increase their electricity production relative to plants in states that chose a fixed allocation. Results find that updating allocations led to a 5 percentage point increase in capacity factors for natural gas combined cycle generators and no effect or a modest decrease for coal generators. These findings imply that an updating allocations confers a modest but meaningful subsidy to production relative to a fixed allocation and that firm responses are heterogeneous based on production technology and market conditions.

Effects of State Taxation on Investment: Evidence from the Oil Industry (with Jason Brown and Dale Manning)

We provide theoretical and empirical evidence that firms do not in general respond equally to changes in prices and taxes in the setting of oil well drilling in the United States. Our key theoretical contribution is that in a multi-state model, a change in output price changes both the benefit and opportunity cost of drilling, whereas a change in a state tax rate only changes the benefit of drilling in that state. Thus, a firm responds more to a change in tax than a change in price. Our econometric results support this theoretical prediction. We find that a one dollar per barrel increase in price leads to a 1 percent increase in wells drilled, but a one dollar per barrel increase in tax leads to at least an 8 percent decrease in wells drilled. These estimates correspond to elasticities of about 0.5 and -0.3, respectively. These results are robust to interstate spillovers, other state regulations, and econometric specification. They imply that using state tax rate decreases to incentivize investment may lead to losses of government revenue.