Research

In the Media

Climate benefits from electric car equals $425, study says, San Diego Union Tribune, September 2015

Publications

From Cradle to Junkyard: Assessing the Life-cycle Greenhouse Gas Benefi ts of Electric Vehicles
Research in Transportation Economics, October 2015
With Alissa Kendall and David Rapson
U.S. programs subsidize electric vehicles (EVs) in part to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We model a suite of life cycle GHG emissions considerations to estimate the GHG abatement potential from switching from an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICE) to an EV in the continental U.S. The GHG intensity of EVs hinges on the electricity and ambient temperature when charged and operated. Both have high spatial and temporal heterogeneity, yet are typically modeled inadequately or overlooked entirely. We calculate marginal emissions, including renewables, for electricity by region and test forecasted grid composition to estimate future performance. Location and timing of charging are important GHG determinants, but temperature effects on EV performance can be equally important. On average, EVs slightly reduce GHGs relative to ICEs, but there are many regions where EVs provide a decisive benefit and others where EVs are significantly worse. The forecasted grid shifts from coal towards renewables, improving EV performance; the GHG benefit per EV in western states is roughly $425 today and $2400 in 2040.
Online Appendix

Working Papers

Dam Spillovers: Direct costs and spillovers from environmental constraints on hydroelectric generation
Water policy, and particularly, its interaction with energy supply and demand are at the forefront of currently policy analysis. This paper contributes to that discussion by estimating the direct costs from a set of environmental regulations on hydroelectric dams and the resulting indirect costs to unregulated fossil fuel generators participating in the same output market using micro-level data and accounting for firm-level heterogeneity. Using a novel method of imputing hour-to-hour operations at hydroelectric dams, I find large direct effects, reducing the mean value of output between 10.6 and 18.0%. However, substantial spillovers to other firms comprise over 50% of the total estimated cost of the regulations. Difference-in-difference estimates typical in the literature are likely to vastly understate direct costs and spillovers. Decomposition of these effects suggests spillovers are driven by water scarcity in dry years and complementarity between disparate generation technologies in wetter years. These effects will continue to grow as climate change increases water scarcity and the deployment of renewable generation technologies increases.
Air Quality and Error Quantity: Pollution and Performance in a High-skilled, Quality-focused Occupation
Revisions requested, Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists
With Anthony Heyes and Soodeh Saberian
We provide the first evidence that short-term variation in air pollution affects the work performance of a group of highly-skilled, quality-focused employees. We observe the decision-making of a panel of professional baseball umpires, quasi-randomly assigned to varying air quality across time and space. Unique characteristics of this setting combined with high-frequency data disentangle the effects of multiple pollutants and identify previously-ignored acute effects. The results suggest a greater than expected role for carbon monoxide (CO) and significant effects for particulate matter (PM2.5) at levels well below EPA limits. Effects are substantial, regularly exceeding a 2% productivity decrement across US metropolitan areas.
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Selected Works in Progress

The Household Vehicle Portfolio Choice: Implications for Emissions Abatement Policies with Kenneth Gillingham, Chris Knittel, and David Rapson
Generating Commitment Issues: Estimating Unit Commitment Costs in Wholesale Electricity Markets