Economics of Energy and the Environment

Econ 3391, Boston College

Prof. Richard Sweeney


This course provides an overview of recent research in energy and environmental economics, with an emphasis on connecting policy questions of interest to available data and econometric methods.

In the first few weeks, the emphasis will be on using econometrics for causal policy analysis. We’ll review key concepts through examples looking at the impacts of pollution from energy consumption on human health.

The remainder of the course will focus on specific aspects of energy markets. Energy markets have many unique features and institutional details, and understanding these is essential for designing effective policy. For electricity, oil and natural gas markets, we will first review the theoretical justifications for government intervention. We will then turn to the empirical evidence to see what recent economic scholarship has to say about a variety of energy policy questions, including: What is the best way to promote renewable energy? Should we ban fracking? What are the net benefits of building pipelines? Should we be more energy efficient?

Students will be required to read and discuss academic articles each week, as well as write an empirical term paper. A description of the term paper is availabe here.

For additional details and course policies, see the syllabus.

A schedule of topics covered and assignment dates is provided in the course calendar.


Difference in Differences.
How to Read an Academic Article
Electricity Market Game Notes


Empirical Methods

Electric Power Regulation

Taxing Carbon in the Electric Power Sector

Economics of Solar Power

Economics of Wind Power

Energy Efficiency

Transportation Intro

Estimating Demand Elasticity

Electric Vehicles

Domestic Oil Policy

Natural Gas Pipelines