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Assessing the Economic Contribution of Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services in the Sargasso Sea

This report provides a variety of measures of the Sargasso Sea’s economic value and impact, especially net and gross revenues associated with ecosystem services supported by the sea. It captures just a small portion of these services and does not reflect their complete and total net value. Yet analysis of data on even this small portion suggests that the economic importance of the Sargasso Sea is significant. Economic expenditures and revenues directly or potentially linked to that sea range from tens to hundreds of million of dollars a year.

Authors: L. Pendleton, F. Krowicki, P. Strosser, and J. Hallett-Murdoch, Murdoch Marine

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Oceans & Coasts

Marine Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services

Marine

Environmental Economics

Reports

Optimizing the Scale of Markets for Water Quality Trading

Allowing polluters to buy, sell or trade water-quality credits could significantly reduce pollution in river basins and estuaries faster and at a lower cost than requiring facilities to meet compliance costs on their own, a new Duke University led study finds. The scale and type of the trading programs, though critical, may matter less than just getting them started. The analysis in the journal Water Resources Research shows that water-quality trading of any kind can significantly lower the costs of achieving Clean Water Act goals.

Author(s): Martin Doyle, Lauren Patterson, Yanyou Chen, Kurt Schnier, and Andrew Yates

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Science

Water

Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

National

Journal Articles

Conditional Water Rights in the Western United States: Introducing Uncertainty to Prior Appropriation?

In the prior-appropriation water rights regimes that prevail in the arid western United States, claims to annually variable surface water flows are fulfilled on the basis of the order of their establishment. The two-step process used to establish an appropriative water right in all 17 conterminous western states creates a temporary phase, or conditional water right, that has a priority date but no actual water use. This article reviews the legal basis for these conditional water rights and demonstrates the potential uncertainty they introduce to current water users. It then presents a complete census of conditional water rights (amounts, ages, and uses) in Colorado. At the end of 2012, conditional water rights in Colorado (some over 90 years old) were equal to 61% of the perfected water rights. Many of the controversial conditional water rights in Colorado have been associated with unconventional oil production in the northwestern portion of the state; however, conditional water rights are ubiquitous across the state and across many use types. In several basins, their existence can introduce uncertainty to some of the most senior water rights holders. Nevertheless, in most of the state, the effects of conditional water rights are restricted to a relatively junior class of water users. This work quantifies for the first time the result, in one state, of a peculiar aspect of water law common across all western prior-appropriation states.

Author(s): Charles J.P. Podolak and Martin Doyle

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Water

Allocation

Western

Journal Articles

Terminating Links between Emission Trading Programs

Links between emission trading programs are not immutable, as highlighted by New Jersey's exit from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This raises the question of what to do with existing permits that are banked for future use—choices that have consequences for market behavior in advance of, or upon speculation about, delinking. We consider two delinking policies. One differentiates banked permits by origin, the other treats banked permits the same. We describe the price behavior and relative cost-effectiveness of each policy. Treating permits differently generally leads to higher costs, and may lead to price divergence, even with only speculation about delinking.

Author(s): William Pizer and Andrew Yates

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Climate & Energy

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

National

Working Papers

Regulating Existing Power Plants under the Clean Air Act: Present and Future Consequences of Key Design Choices

In June 2014, the EPA released its proposal for rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants, triggering considerable debate on the proposal’s environmental and economic consequences and on alternatives highlighted by the proposal and by other stakeholders. One question not addressed by this debate is this: What if the EPA regulations turn out to be inadequate to address future mitigation goals? That is, what will the landscape for future policies look like if these regulations turn out to be just an interim measure? This analysis explores the long-term consequences of several key regulatory design choices, including mass-based versus rate-based standards, tradable versus non-tradable standards, and differentiated versus single standards. It finds that these consequences may be significant: differentiated standards lead to relatively greater investment in coal retrofits; non-tradable standards lead to relatively greater retirement of coal capacity. It may be the case that key policy choices entail one set of tradeoffs if proposed EPA rules are viewed as relatively permanent and final and another set of tradeoffs if the rules are viewed as an interim solution.

Authors: Brian C. Murray, William A. Pizer, and Martin Ross

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Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

Modeling

Working Papers

Mangrove Ecosystem Services Valuation: State of the Literature

A growing body of literature provides estimates of ecosystem services values derived from mangroves. If this literature is to be useful in decision making, it must have a solid foundation of value estimates. This paper identifies gaps in data and knowledge regarding mangrove ecosystem services valuations and recommends ways that future research could advance understanding of mangrove ecology, ecosystem services valuation, and conservation. 

Authors: Tibor Vegh, Megan Jungwiwattanaporn, Linwood Pendleton, and Brian Murray

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Oceans & Coasts

Marine Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services

Marine

Environmental Economics

Working Papers

Synthesis and Review: Advancing Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Quantification

Reducing emissions of agricultural greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as methane and nitrous oxide, and sequestering carbon in the soil or in living biomass can help reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change while imporving productivity. A new article in a special focus issue of Environmental Research Letters synthesizes the current findings on the state of the capacity for agricultural GHG quantification. It concludes that strategic investment in quantification can lead to significant global improvement in agricultural GHG estimation in the near term.

Author(s): Lydia P. Olander, Eva Wollenberg, Francesco N. Tubiello, and Martin Herold

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Climate & Energy

Agriculture

Ecosystem Services

T-AGG

T-AGG International

Environmental Economics

National

Journal Articles

Completing the Energy Innovation Cycle: The View from the Public Utility Commission

Achieving a widespread adoption of innovative electricity generation technologies involves a complex system of research, development, demonstration, and deployment, with each phase then informing future developments. Despite a number of non-regulatory programs at the federal level to support this process, the innovation premium—the increased cost and technology risk often associated with innovative generation technologies—creates hurdles in the state public utility commission (PUC) process. This article in the Hastings Law Journal examines how and why innovative energy technologies face challenges in the PUC process, focusing on case studies where PUCs have approved or denied utility proposals to deploy high cost, first-generation energy technologies. It concludes with an outline of possible strategies to address PUC concerns by allocating the innovation premium beyond a single utility's ratepayers.

Author(s): Jonas Monast and Sarah Adair 

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Climate & Energy

Policy and Design

State Utility Regulation

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

States & Regions

State Policy

Journal Articles

Regulating Greenhouse Gases Sector by Sector under the Clean Air Act: How Well Does the Electric-Generating Unit Experience Translate to Petroleum Refineries?

The Environmental Protection Agency is developing performance standards to limit CO2 emissions from the electric power sector, and refineries may one day face similar regulations. If so, some of the policies for regulating carbon emissions from electric-generating units might be translatable to a greenhouse gas (GHG) performance standard for refineries. However, differences between the electric power and petroleum refining industries may be substantial enough to warrant a re-examination of key regulatory decisions in the power plant rule. This policy brief identifies the key differences and highlights their possible significance for a GHG rulemaking for petroleum refineries under the Clean Air Act. A companion working paper—Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under Section 111(D) of the Clean Air Act: Implications for Petroleum Refineries—discusses the three major steps for rulemaking, policy design questions, potential responses, and their implications as well as examines options for tailoring discussions from power plant regulation, maximizing cost effectiveness, taking into account differences among refineries, and formatting regulation in a way that may best fit them.

Author(s): Kristie Beaudoin, Allison Donnelly, Sarah K. Adair, Brian Murray, William A. Pizer, Tim Profeta

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Climate & Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

Policy Briefs

Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under Section 111(D) of the Clean Air Act: Implications for Petroleum Refineries

The Environmental Protection Agency is developing performance standards to limit CO2 emissions from the electric power sector, and refineries may one day face similar regulations. This paper describes the structure of the refining industry as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed authority to regulate the industry’s emissions under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. It discusses the three major steps for rulemaking, policy design questions that arise at each step, potential responses, and implications for environmental outcomes, equity, and cost effectiveness. The paper concludes by highlighting key considerations for refineries, including options for tailoring discussions from power plant regulation, maximizing cost effectiveness, taking into account differences among refineries, and—given the industry’s characteristics—formatting regulation in a way that may best fit them. A companion policy brief—Regulating Greenhouse Gases Sector by Sector under the Clean Air Act: How Well Does the Electric-Generating Unit Experience Translate to Petroleum Refineries?—highlights differences between the electric power industry and the petroleum refinery industry and highlights their significance for rulemaking for the latter.

Author(s): Allison Donnelly, Kristie Beaudoin, Sarah K. Adair, Brian Murray, William A. Pizer, Tim Profeta

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Climate & Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Working Papers

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