November 28, 2010

How Good Politics Results in Bad Policy: The Case of Biofuel Mandates

by Robert Z. Lawrence

- In this paper Lawrence argues that the growing list of concerns about the impact of biofuel targets and mandates are the predictable result of a failure to follow the basic principles of good policy-making. Good policy-making requires developing a policy goal or target (i.e., reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing oil consumption, or increasing rural economic development) and designing an instrument to efficiently meet that particular goal. The more precise the goal, the better. In addition, for each target, there should be at least one policy instrument. You cannot meet two goals with only one instrument. Lawrence argues that the current U.S. biofuels mandates do not represent the most efficient or precise instrument to meet any of the policy’s stated goals.

Lawrence, R.Z. (2010). "How Good Politics Results in Bad Policy: The Case of Biofuel Mandates." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP10-044, Nov 2010.