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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Urban Road Transportation Externalities: Costs and Choice of Policy Instruments

Urban Road Transportation Externalities: Costs and Choice of Policy Instruments: "
http://wbro.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/1/162.full
Abstract: Urban transportation externalities are a key development challenge. Based on the existing literature, the authors illustrate the magnitudes of various external costs, review response policies, and measure and discuss their selection, particularly focusing on the context of developing countries. They find that regulatory policy instruments aimed at reducing local air pollution have been introduced in most countries in the world. On the other hand, fiscal policy instruments aimed at reducing congestion or greenhouse gas emissions are limited mainly to industrialized economies. Although traditional fiscal instruments, such as fuel taxes and subsidies, are normallyintroduced for other purposes, they can also help to reduce externalities. Land-use or urban planning, and infrastructure investment, could also contribute to reducing externalities; but they are expensive and play a small role in already developed megacities. The main factors that influence the choice of policy instruments include economic efficiency, equity, country or city specific priority, and institutional capacity for implementation. Multiple policy options need to be used simultaneously to reduce effectively the different externalities arising from urban road transportation because most policy options are not mutually exclusive.
...
For example, Jakob, Craig, and Fisher (2006) estimate the cost of local air pollution from road transportation in Auckland, New Zealand at NZ$58.4 million (or 0.2 percent of the region's GDP) in 2001.

Traffic congestion is another key source of urban transportation externalities. ESCAP (2007) estimates the costs of traffic congestion in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Manila to be 2.1, 1.8, 0.9, and 0.7 percent of GDP, respectively, in 1996. Zergas (1998) estimates a congestion cost of US$286 million (0.59 percent of national GDP) for Santiago, Chile in 1994 without including the marginal increase in fuel consumption and air pollution caused by congestion. Schrank and Lomax (2005) estimate that total congestion costs in the 68 major urban regions in the United States amounts to $78 billion (0.84 percent of national GDP) in 1999. These estimates illustrate that the relative economic loss due to traffic congestion in many cities in the developing countries is even higher than that in cities in industrialized countries.

Traffic accidents cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of injuries each year, as well as billions in financial losses. The costs vary across countries depending upon the cost assigned to medical expenses, lost productivity, and loss of life. ADB and ASEAN (2007) estimate that costs of traffic accidents amounted to 2 to 3 percent of national GDP in South East Asian countries during the 2001–03 period, with the exception of Singapore and Brunei, where the costs are much lower (0.5 to 1.2 percent of GDP). Mohan (2002) finds that accident costs are higher in high income countries and lower in low income countries. For example, while accident costs accounted for 4.6 percent of GDP in the United States in 1994, it accounted for only 0.3 percent of GDP in Vietnam in 1998. The higher accident cost in developed countries is mainly due to the higher value attached to productivity and higher health care costs. Because the cost of life lost in an accident is higher than the value of time lost to traffic congestion, the external costs of accidents tend to be higher than the external costs of congestion. In 2006, accident costs accounted for $164.2 billion compared to $67.6 billion for congestion in the United States (Cambridge Systematics 2008).

by Govinda R. Timilsina and Hari B. Dulal
World Bank Research Observer published by Oxford University Press http://wbro.oxfordjournals.org
Volume 26, Issue 1; 2011; pages 162-191
doi: 10.1093/wbro/lkq005
Original post blogged on b2evolution.
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A Reverse Auction for Wetland Restoration in the Assiniboine River Watershed, Saskatchewan

A Reverse Auction for Wetland Restoration in the Assiniboine River Watershed, Saskatchewan: "

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-7976.2010.01215.x

Abstract: Wetland habitat continues to be lost in many watersheds across Canada and new program tools are needed to help restore drained wetlands. We used a reverse auction to restore drained wetlands in the Assiniboine River Watershed (ARW) of east-central Saskatchewan which is an important target area for wetland restoration in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). The reverse auction format was discriminative, with sealed bids and two rounds of bidding. Bidders could submit bids for 12-year term agreements and/or perpetual conservation easements, and bids were submitted by quarter section (160 acres). Bids could be either in cultivated cropland or perennial forage, and were evaluated using an environmental benefits index based on the incremental increase in predicted hatched waterfowl nests relative to bid price. Potential bidders were solicited via contacts with existing conservation project cooperators, and a public media campaign. In the first round, 20 bidders submitted 118 bids to restore 713 wetlands totaling 670 acres at a price of $837,000. All bids were for 12-year term agreements. Bid prices to restore drained wetlands within cultivated land were higher than for perennial forage. In the second round, 30 bids from seven bidders were approved to restore 211 wetlands totaling 211 acres in perennial forage at a price of $182,000. The price of successful bids varied from $20.83 to $391.22 per acre per year (average $118.52). The reverse auction provided information on cost variability and funding required for achieving NAWMP wetland restoration objectives in the ARW.



by Michael R. J. Hill, D. Glen McMaster, Tom Harrison, Aron Hershmiller and Trevor Plews

Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie via Wiley Online Library

Canadian Agricultural Economics Society

Early View (Articles online in advance of print); Article first published online: January 28, 2011

Original post blogged on b2evolution.

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Snow-melting road technology in the works

Snow-melting road technology in the works: "

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20030231-54.html

... Solar roads that melt snow and ice seem less like a far-fetched pipe dream and more like an obvious investment. Engineers on opposite sides of the country are working to make that happen.



Solar Roadways in Boise, Idaho, received a contract from the Federal Highway Administration to build a solar road panel prototype, which was completed early last year. The 12x12-square-foot road designed by engineer and CEO Scott Brusaw is made out of panels encased in strong and durable glass with the traction of asphalt and that won't cause glare.



Each encased panel generates 7.6 kilowatt hours of electricity per day, and can be connected to smart grids to power homes and business. Wireless LED lights embedded in the glass create road signs and weight-sensitive crosswalks. They also contain heating elements that can melt snow and ice.



The technology to make snow plowing obsolete is similar to what's already used in automobile windshields. Heating elements in the glass melt existing snow or ice and prevent accumulation from developing. By preventing snow-related auto accidents and improving road access for emergency responders, the technology would save a lot of lives.

It could also save cities a lot of money.



As a rule of thumb, snow removal costs about $1 million per inch in New York City each season, and back-to-back snow storms have emptied the city's $38 million snow removal budget.... It would take more than 10 billion solar panels to cover the more than 3 million miles of roadway and 25,000 square miles of driveways and parking lots in the U.S. At $6,900 a panel, wholesale replacing of old asphalt with new solar road panels is a nonstarter.



And then there's the question of efficacy. Will solar-powered heating elements be able to work through a long winter night? Or what about the ability to work during extended periods of thick cloud cover during storms?



With the prototype completed, Brusaw is working to test his technology in a parking lot or stretch of road in Idaho.....



A cheaper snow-melting road model is also being developed by Rajib Mallick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His model heats roads without using photovoltaic panels or cells. Mallick and his colleagues are designing a system of heat-absorbing roadways with embedded pipes filled with freeze-resistant fluid. The fluid is heated in warm weather and stored in insulated chambers. The fluid is sent through the roadway pipes during cold weather. Mallick estimates that it will cost $12,500 for every 164 feet of pipe and should be able to make up for its costs after six months.

...

by Liane Yvkoff

www.CNET.com

February 1, 2011

Original post blogged on b2evolution.

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Improving urban wastewater management through an auction-based management of discharges

Improving urban wastewater management through an auction-based management of discharges: "

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2011.01.005

Abstract: This article proposes the use of an auction process in which the capacity of a WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is sold to coordinate different industrial discharges within the Urban Wastewater System (UWS). The main goal of coordination is to manage the wastewater inflow rate and pollutants to improve the WWTP operation. The system is modeled as a multi-agent system where each industry is represented by an agent, another agent represents the influent coming from the domestic use and one agent represents the WWTP. When the maximum level of the flow or the maximum concentrations of some components exceed the plant’s capacity, an auction starts. In the auction, the WWTP agent is the auctioneer that sells its resources and the industry agents are the bidders that want to buy the resources. The winners of the auction will discharge to the sewage system and the losers will have to wait for the next opportunity. The resulting wastewater discharge schedules of the industries have been analyzed using the IWA/COST simulation benchmark as a case study. The results obtained through this simulation protocol show that the auction-based coordination mechanism using both pollution and hydraulic capacity constraints accomplishes the goal of improving the effluent quality, achieving a reduction in the impact of industrial discharges up to 20.99%.



by Javier Murillo 1, Dídac Busquets 1, Jordi Dalmau 2, Beatriz López 1, Víctor Muñoz 1 and Ignasi Rodríguez-Roda 2 and 3

1. Institut d’Informàtica i Aplicacions, Universitat de Girona, Campus Montilivi, 17071 Girona, Spain

2. Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Universitat de Girona, Campus Montilivi, 17071 Girona, Spain

3. Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA), Edifici H2O, Parc Científic i Tecnològic de la Universitat de Girona, Emili Grahit 101, 17003 Girona, Spain

Environmental Modelling & Software via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com

Article in Press, Corrected Proof; Available Onlin February 9, 2011

Original post blogged on b2evolution.

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Biofuel policies and the environment: Do climate benefits warrant increased production from biofuel feedstocks?

Biofuel policies and the environment: Do climate benefits warrant increased production from biofuel feedstocks?: "

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.11.002

Abstract: We examine whether climate benefits warrant policies promoting biofuel production from agricultural crops when other environmental impacts are accounted for. We develop a general economic–ecological modelling framework for integrated analysis of biofuel policies. An economic model of farmers' decision making is combined with a biophysical model predicting the effects of farming practices on crop yields and relevant environmental impacts. They include GHG emissions over the life cycle, nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, and the quality of wildlife habitats. We apply our model to crop production in Finland. We find that under current biofuel production technology the case for promotion of biofuels is not as evident as has been generally thought. Only reed canary grass for biodiesel is unambiguously desirable, whereas biodiesel from rape seed and ethanol production from wheat and barley cause in most cases negative net impacts on the environment. Suggested policies in the US and the EU tend to improve slightly the environmental performance of biofuel production.



by Jussi Lankoski 1 and Markku Ollikainen 2

1. OECD, Directorate for Trade and Agriculture, Paris, France

2. University of Helsinki, Department of Economics and Management, P.O. Box 27, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.

Ecological Economics via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDierect.com

Volume 70, Issue 4; February 15, 2011; Pages 676-687

Original post blogged on b2evolution.

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The Value of Inherent Soil Characteristics: A Hedonic Analysis

The Value of Inherent Soil Characteristics: A Hedonic Analysis: "

http://purl.umn.edu/97158

Abstract: In an attempt to value soil natural capital, we use the inherent characteristics of soil and land valuation data to examine the relationship between soil characteristics and rural farmland values in the 6000ks2 Manawatu catchment in New Zealand. The study applies a hedonic pricing method to determine if the value of ‘critical’ inherent characteristics of soils are reflected in land values. We find empirical evidence that the examined characteristics of soil natural capital stock, e.g., particle size, drainage, potential rooting depth and profile available water, are in fact reflected in rural land values.

...

Farmland with loamy soil particles size is valued on average 8% and 29% more than farmland with sandy and skeletal soil particle size classes.... Imperfectly drained soils appear to have a lower value compared with well drained soils.

...

by Oshadhi Samarasinghe 1 and Suzie Greenhalgh, both of Land Care Research Manaaki Whenua, Auckland, New Zealand

AgEconSearch via REPEC Research Papers in Economics www.REPEC.org

Issue Date: August, 2010

Original post blogged on b2evolution.

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Assessment of waste management technology using BATNEEC options, technology quality method and multi-criteria analysis

Assessment of waste management technology using BATNEEC options, technology quality method and multi-criteria analysis: "

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2010.12.016

Abstract: Best Available Techniques Not Entailing Excessive Costs (BATNEEC) options, technology quality method and multi-criteria analysis were proposed as means of developing indices for evaluating municipal waste management systems. The proposed indices can be treated as a tool for ranking the system taking into account technical, environmental, economic, social and other objectives, bearing in mind specific features of the area involved. The analysis was made for three different incineration plants (Spittelau in Vienna, Warsaw and Tarnobrzeg) together with alternative waste disposal versions (with or without biogas burning and with MBP Mechanical-Biological Process) and the waste management infrastructure. The results showed that incineration of waste is much more beneficial than disposal. These results conform to the waste hierarchy identified in EU Directive 2008/98, but the indices created are easy to interpret and useful as a tool for communicating with the public, which is often a crucial factor in determining the location of investment.



by Agnieszka Generowicz 1, Joanna Kulczycka 2, Zygmunt Kowalski 3 and Marcin Banach 3

1. Institute of Water Supply and Environmental Protection, Cracow University of Technology, Warszawska 24, 31-155 Cracow, Poland

2. Mineral and Energy Economy Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wybickiego 7, 31-261 Cracow, Poland

3. Institute of Chemistry and Inorganic Technology, Cracow University of Technology, Warszawska 24, 31-155 Cracow, Poland

Journal of Environmental Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com

Volume 92, Issue 4; April, 2011; Pages 1314-1320

Original post blogged on b2evolution.

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Improving urban wastewater management through an auction-based management of discharges

Improving urban wastewater management through an auction-based management of discharges: "

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2011.01.005

Abstract: This article proposes the use of an auction process in which the capacity of a WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is sold to coordinate different industrial discharges within the Urban Wastewater System (UWS). The main goal of coordination is to manage the wastewater inflow rate and pollutants to improve the WWTP operation. The system is modeled as a multi-agent system where each industry is represented by an agent, another agent represents the influent coming from the domestic use and one agent represents the WWTP. When the maximum level of the flow or the maximum concentrations of some components exceed the plant’s capacity, an auction starts. In the auction, the WWTP agent is the auctioneer that sells its resources and the industry agents are the bidders that want to buy the resources. The winners of the auction will discharge to the sewage system and the losers will have to wait for the next opportunity. The resulting wastewater discharge schedules of the industries have been analyzed using the IWA/COST simulation benchmark as a case study. The results obtained through this simulation protocol show that the auction-based coordination mechanism using both pollution and hydraulic capacity constraints accomplishes the goal of improving the effluent quality, achieving a reduction in the impact of industrial discharges up to 20.99%.



by Javier Murillo 1, Dídac Busquets 1, Jordi Dalmau 2, Beatriz López 1, Víctor Muñoz 1 and Ignasi Rodríguez-Roda 2 and 3

1. Institut d’Informàtica i Aplicacions, Universitat de Girona, Campus Montilivi, 17071 Girona, Spain

2. Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Universitat de Girona, Campus Montilivi, 17071 Girona, Spain

3. Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA), Edifici H2O, Parc Científic i Tecnològic de la Universitat de Girona, Emili Grahit 101, 17003 Girona, Spain

Environmental Modelling & Software via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com

Article in Press, Corrected Proof; Available Onlin February 9, 2011

Original post blogged on b2evolution.

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A comparative appraisal of the use of rainwater harvesting in single and multi-family buildings of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (Spain): social experience, drinking water savings and economic costs

A comparative appraisal of the use of rainwater harvesting in single and multi-family buildings of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (Spain): social experience, drinking water savings and economic costs: "

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2010.11.010

Abstract: Many urban areas suffer water scarcity but paradoxically, a local source of water such as rainwater is mostly treated as a risk rather than as a valuable resource. Scepticism regarding the use of rainwater harvesting technologies still prevails today, particularly in low precipitation areas. However, some regions such as the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (MAB) have started to promote the use of rainwater through specific regulations and incentives. This paper aims to examine the use of rainwater harvesting in the two main types of buildings prevalent in the MAB by analysing users’ practices and perceptions, drinking water savings and economic costs. Despite low precipitation inputs and a high variability of precipitation, daily balances show that toilet flushing demand of a single family house can be practically met with a relatively small tank. Rooftop rainwater can also meet more than 60% of the landscape irrigation demand in both single and multi-family buildings. The main drawback is the long pay-back period that rainwater harvesting systems present today. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that in multi-family buildings residents usually take no notice of the costs associated with the system. In contrast, benefits for the whole society are usually much more appreciated. Users’ reactions and their level of satisfaction towards rainwater harvesting systems suggest that both regulations and subsidies are good strategies to advocate and expand rainwater harvesting technologies in residential areas. However, a multidirectional learning environment needs to be promoted to ensure a proper use of rainwater harvesting systems and risk minimisation.



by Laia Domènech 1 and David Saurí 1 and 2

1. Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Edifici C, Campus UAB, 08193, Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Spain; Tel.: +34 935812503; fax: +34935813331

2. Department of Geography, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Campus UAB, 08193, Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Spain. Tel.: +34 935812503; fax: +34935813331

Journal of Cleaner Production via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com

Volume 19, Issues 6-7; April-May, 2011; Pages 598-608

Original post blogged on b2evolution.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Residential Consumption of Gas and Electricity in the U.S.: The Role of Prices and Income

Residential Consumption of Gas and Electricity in the U.S.: The Role of Prices and Income: "

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eneco.2011.01.015

Abstract: We study residential demand for electricity and gas, working with nationwide household-level data that cover recent years, namely 1997–2007. Our dataset is a mixed panel/multi-year cross-sections of dwellings/households in the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States as of 2008. We estimate static and dynamic models of electricity and gas demand. We find strong household response to energy prices, both in the short and long term. From the static models, we get estimates of the own price elasticity of electricity demand in the − 0.860 to − 0.667 range, while the own price elasticity of gas demand is − 0.693 to − 0.566. These results are robust to a variety of checks. Contrary to earlier literature (Metcalf and Hassett, 1999; Reiss and White, 2005), we find no evidence of significantly different elasticities across households with electric and gas heat. The price elasticity of electricity demand declines with income, but the magnitude of this effect is small. These results are in sharp contrast to much of the literature on residential energy consumption in the United States, and with the figures used in current government agency practice. Our results suggest that there might be greater potential for policies which affect energy price than may have been previously appreciated.



by Anna Alberini 1 and 2, Will Gans 1 and Daniel Velez-Lopez 1

1. University of Maryland / AREC Department / Rm. 2200 Symons Hall / College Park, MD 20742–5535. Tel.: + 301 105 1267; fax: + 301 314 9091

2. CEPE, ETH Zürich

Energy Economics via Elsevvier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com

Article in Press, Accepted Manuscript; Available online February 8, 2011

A full free November, 2010 version of the paper is available at http://www.cepe.ethz.ch/publications/workingPapers/CEPE_WP77.pdf. In that paper the authors note:

We computed the total variation of real electricity prices and of log real electricity prices, and found that in each case the variation within dwellings accounted for only 4% of the total variation. Our measure of variation is the sum of square deviations from the grand mean. Gas prices are more variable over time: the “within” dwelling variation accounts for about 14% of total variation in real gas prices, and 15% of the total variation for log real gas prices.



Consumption of electricity increases by 22% for every 10% increase in the square footage of the home, is 16% higher if the home has air conditioning, and about 15% higher if the home is heated using electricity. Dishwashers and electrical stoves increase usage by 8% and 7%, respectively.

...

The model with city-specific effects indicates that gas usage increases by 19% for every 10 percentage point increase in the square footage of the home, and is about 24% larger in homes with gas heating systems. The impact of these variables is small and statistically insignificant in the variants with dwelling- and dwelling- household effects. ...

Original post blogged on b2evolution.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

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