Exercise | December 1992 (Revised September 1995)

Negotiation Exercise on Tradeable Pollution Allowances: General Background Information

by Willis M. Emmons III


Designed to teach students about the trade-offs faced by firms exploring alternative approaches to complying with pollution control regulations. The setting is the U.S. electric utility industry in 1993. In accordance with the provisions of the 1990 Clean Air Act, coal-burning utilities must lower their emissions of SO2 (sulfur dioxide) significantly by 1995, and then reduce their emissions by an additional 50% by the year 2000. In this stylized negotiation each utility has the option of complying with the regulations through one of three methods: 1) by installing pollution control equipment ("scrubbers"); 2) by substituting high-sulfur coal; and/or 3) by purchasing tradeable SO2 allowances from other firms that overcomply with the emission control legislation. Not only must each utility reduce its emissions by a different amount, but the costs faced by each firm with respect to scrubbing and fuel switching differ as well. Also, assumptions relating to the state regulatory environment differ across negotiating groups. Negotiations take place in groups of four utilities, and separate scenarios are available for three distinct groups. (See Supplements.)

Keywords: Negotiation; Pollution and Pollutants; Laws and Statutes; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Governance Compliance; Utilities Industry; United States;


Emmons, Willis M., III. "Negotiation Exercise on Tradeable Pollution Allowances: General Background Information." Harvard Business School Exercise 793-072, December 1992. (Revised September 1995.)