HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Director of Environmental and Natural Resource Program and Senior Research Associate
Senior Lecturer in Public Policy


Even as the US debates an economy-wide CO2 cap-and-trade policy the transportation sector remains a significant oil security and climate change concern. Transportation alone consumes the majority of the US's imported oil and produces a third of total US Greenhouse-Gas (GHG) emissions. This study examines different sector-specific policy scenarios for reducing GHG emissions and oil consumption in the US transportation sector under economy-wide CO2 prices. The 2009 version of the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) National Energy Modeling System (NEMS), a general equilibrium model of US energy markets, enables quantitative estimates of the impact of economy-wide CO2 prices and various transportation-specific policy options. We analyze fuel taxes, continued increases in fuel economy standards, and purchase tax credits for new vehicle purchases, as well as the impacts of combining these policies. All policy scenarios modeled fail to meet the Obama administration's goal of reducing GHG emissions 14% below 2005 levels by 2020. Purchase tax credits are expensive and ineffective at reducing emissions, while the largest reductions in GHG emissions result from increasing the cost of driving, thereby damping growth in vehicle miles traveled.


Morrow, W. Ross, Kelly Sims Gallagher, Gustavo Collantes, and Henry Lee. "Analysis of Policies to Reduce Oil Consumption and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions from the US Transportation Sector." Energy Policy 38.3 (March 2010): 1305-1320.