Matthew Oliver

Assistant Professor

Member Of:
  • School of Economics
Office Phone:
Office Location:
Old CE Building, Room 223

Matthew E. Oliver hails from Memphis, Tennessee. He received his bachelor’s degree in Business Economics from the University of Memphis in 2008, and his PhD in Economics from the University of Wyoming in 2013.  His primary fields of expertise are environmental and natural resource economics, energy economics, and international trade and development.  Dr. Oliver’s research interests focus on the regulation of energy resources and energy infrastructure, particularly natural gas markets and interstate pipelines. Additionally, he has published research on topics such as the bio-economics of invasive species and international negotiations on climate change.

  • Ph.D., University of Wyoming
  • B.A., University of Memphis
Research Fields:
  • Applied Econometrics
  • Development Economics
  • Energy Economics
  • Environmental Economics
  • Industrial Organization
  • International Trade
  • Natural Resource Economics
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • International Development
Courses Taught:
  • ECON-2105: Prin of Macroeconomics
  • ECON-2106: Prin of Microeconomics
  • ECON-3110: Adv Microeconomic Analys
  • ECON-4440: Economics of Environment
  • ECON-6105: Macroeconomics
  • ECON-6380: Economic of Environment
  • ECON-7012: Microeconomic Theory I
  • ECON-7102: Environmental Econ I
Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • Natural Gas Pipeline Regulation in the United States: Past, Present, and Future
       In: Foundations & Trends in Microeconomics [Peer Reviewed]

    June 2018

  • Reassessing the Links Between GHG Emissions, Economic Growth, and the UNFCCC: A Difference-in-Differences Approach
       In: Sustainability [Peer Reviewed]

    February 2018

    International climate agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 and, more recently, the Paris Climate Agreement are fragile because, at a national level, political constituencies’ value systems may conflict with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to sustainable levels. Proponents cite climate change as the most pressing challenge of our time, contending that international cooperation will play an essential role in addressing this challenge. Political opponents argue that the disproportionate requirements on developed nations to shoulder the financial burden will inhibit their economic growth. We find empirical evidence that both arguments are likely to be correct. We use standard regression techniques to analyze a multi-country dataset of GHG emissions, GDP per capita growth, and other factors. We estimate that after the Kyoto Protocol (KP) entered into force ‘Annex I’ countries reduced GHG emissions on average by roughly 1 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MTCO2e), relative to non-Annex I countries. However, our estimates reveal that these countries also experienced an average reduction in GDP per capita growth rates of around 1-2 percentage points relative to non-Annex I countries.

  • Taming Drillers through Legislative Action: Evidence from Pennsylvania's Shale Gas Industry
       In: Resource and Energy Economics [Peer Reviewed]

    November 2017

    In 2012 Pennsylvania amended its Oil and Gas Act to tighten regulations on development of shale gas resources. Three key pecuniary provisions were annual well fees, increased bonding requirements, and higher penalty limits for violations. We analyze the effects of these mandates on well operator behavior using data on well operations and inspections over the period 2000-2013. After deriving theoretical predictions, we empirically examine each provision’s effect on firm behavior in two aspects: (i) acquisition of new well permits, and (ii) regulatory violations. Overall, we find the amendments induced firms to acquire fewer permits and elevate environmental protection effort. 

  • Economies of Scale and Scope in Expansion of the U.S. Natural Gas Pipeline Network
       In: Energy Economics [Peer Reviewed]

    November 2015

    I analyze cost, capacity, mileage, and technical data for 254 U.S. natural gas pipeline projects over the period 1997–2012. Although project costs exhibit economies of scale over the capacity margin and economies of scope over the spatial margin, network expansion costs may not exhibit cost economies overall. That is, proportional increases in both transmission capacity and length (in miles) may result in a proportional (or even greater-than-proportional) increase in expansion costs. Moreover, large projects (high-capacity pipelines spanning long distances) likely require installation of compression horsepower, which has direct cost effects. My results suggest such projects exhibit significant diseconomies in cost structure. As a result, pipeline tariffs based on cost-of-service pricing likely present a disincentive for prospective pipeline customers to commit to long-term contracts—which are necessary for the pipeline to acquire regulatory permission to build—particularly for large, long-distance expansion projects. The implication is that cost-of-service pricing may inhibit network expansion, exacerbating congestion issues.

  • Contests, Common Agency, and Corruption: Why the Green Candidate Seldom Wins
       In: Strategic Behavior and the Environment [Peer Reviewed]

    October 2015

    Public sector corruption has been linked to resource dependency and environmental degradation in the developing world. Herein, we examine the persistence of public sector corruption by modeling an elected public official with the power to set agricultural/resource input-subsidization policy in a developing economy. Through common agency, firms offer bribes to influence policy. A more corrupt official extracts a greater bribe. This implies in a political contest between two candidates with different propensities for corruption, the corrupt incumbent, having the greater prize at stake, always expends greater effort and is the contest favorite. The less corrupt 'green' challenger is always the contest underdog. Our results suggest that i) corruption is politically advantageous; and ii) corruption and political instability are mutually reinforcing, leading to over-harvesting and too much pollution.

  • Pipeline Congestion and Basis Differentials
       In: Journal of Regulatory Economics [Peer Reviewed]

    September 2014

    In the U.S., natural gas pipeline transport has undergone a wave of deregulatory actions over the past several decades. The underlying motive has been the presumption that removing regulatory frictions would facilitate spot price arbitrage, helping to integrate prices across geographic locations and improve efficiency. Yet certain frictions, specifically the effect of congestion on transportation costs, inhibit positive deregulatory impacts on efficiency. With the increase in domestic production and consumption of natural gas over the coming decades, upward pressure on the demand for transport will likely result in an increased occurrence of persistently congested pipeline routes. In this paper we explore the relationship between congestion and spot prices using a simple network model, paying particular attention to the influence of storage. We find that as congestion between two hubs increases, the scarcity value of transmission capacity rises, driving a wedge between spot prices. We empirically quantify this effect over a specific pipeline route in the Rocky Mountain region that closely resembles our structural design. Although our results paint a stark picture of the impact that congestion can have on efficiency, we also find evidence that the availability of storage mitigates the price effects of congestion through the intertemporal substitution of transmission services.