Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Economics and Finance


Arthur Caplan


Cache County and the Wasatch Front, Utah have persistently experienced some of the nation’s worst air quality over the past decade. Elevated PM2.5 concentrations during wintertime “red air day” episodes frequently exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). We investigate the possible effects of two different economic policies in controlling these regional problems. Adapting a model originally developed to calculate the social investment necessary to control nationwide disease outbreaks, we estimate an optimal preventative capital stock (for example, investment in public transportation) of between $4.1 million and $14.1 million to control red air day episodes in Cache County, and $133 million to $1.6 billion dollars to control such episodes in the Wasatch Front. Further, we find that a seasonal gasoline tax rate of roughly $8 per gallon is necessary for policy makers in the Wasatch Front to impose at the pump if their goal is to maintain concentrations below the NAAQS on average during a typical winter-inversion season. This rate is roughly $2 more than the rate calculated for Cache County in a previously published study.