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05/24/08

First Annual Meeting of the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis Agenda Released

Meeting Agenda
Day 1: Wednesday, June 25

* Registration and Check-In: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

* Lunch with keynote speech "The Power of Measuring Social Benefits" by Jonathan Fanton, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, : 12:45-1:45 p.m.

* Panel 1 – States, Localities, and Benefit-Cost Analysis: 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.
Panel Chair: Ken Acks of the Cost Benefit Group, editor Cost-Benefit News
o Regulatory Regime Change under Federalism: Do States Matter More? by W. Gray of Clark University and R. Shadbegian of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
o The Net Social Benefit of Transforming Six Public Housing Projects into Mixed-Income Communities by T. Boston of Georgia Institute of Technology and L. Boston of EuQuant
o A Retrospective Assessment of the Pittsburgh Midfield Airport Expansion by J. Sturgis of Carnegie Mellon University
o Variations on a Theme: Benefit-Cost Analysis and Environmental Regulation in Pennsylvania by W. Delavan of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

* Panel 2 – Uncertainty and Risk: 4:00-5:15 p.m.
Panel Chair: Scott Farrow of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County
o How to Integrate Risk Assessment and Benefit-Cost Analysis by A. Jessup, C. Nardinelli, D. Mancini, and L. Bush of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Office of Management and Budget
o Early Identification and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease: Desirable Social and Fiscal Outcomes by D. Weimer and M. Sager of the University of Wisconsin
o The Importance of Uncertainty in a Benefit-Cost Analysis of Flood Proofing Policy Decisions for Adaptation to Sea-level Rise by M. Schultz of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and P. Fischbeck, and M. Small of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Carnegie Mellon University
o Homeland Security Benefit-Cost Analysis: Small Steps Forward, Giant Leaps To Go by E. Shapiro of Rutgers University

* Reception and Open-Poster Session: 5:30-6:30 p.m.
o The Costs and Benefits of a Green Mixed-Use Brownfield Redevelopment Project in New York by K. Acks of the Cost Benefit Group and Cost-Benefit News
o The Fatal Flaw of Benefit-Cost Analysis: The Problem of Person-Altering Consequences by G. Cresip of Southern Methodist University
o Benefit-Cost Analysis in Foreign Direct Investment: Trends, Limitations, and Prospects by N. Dasgupta of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County
o Random Error and Simulation Models with an Unobserved Dependent Variable as Applied to the Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act by S. Farrow of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County
o A Full Cost Analysis of Using Backup Generators to Meet Peak Electricity Demand by E. Gilmore, P. Adams, and L. Lave of Carnegie Mellon University
o Riparian Buffers and Hedonic Prices: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis of Residential Property Values in the Neuse River Basin by O. Gin, C. Landry, and G. Meyer of East Carolina University
o Different Measures of the Value of Changes in Risks: The Reference State Matters by J. Knetsch of Simon Fraser University
o Cost-Benefit Analysis of Mercury Control Technologies for Virginia by V. Satyal of the Virgina Department of Environmental Quality
o Mapping Environmental Preferences for Ambiguous Natural Resources by S. Vajjhala, A. John, and D. Evans of Resources for the Future and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
o The Relevance of the Scitovsky Paradox by A. Schmitz of the University of Florida
o Getting the Sulpher out of Gasoline: Costs and Benefits by G. Jenkins of Queen's University

Day 2: Thursday, June 26
* Continental Breakfast: 7:30-8:00 a.m.
* Panel 3 – Federal Practice: 8:00-9:15 a.m.
Panel Chair: Betsy Cody of the Congressional Research Service
o Benefit-Cost Analysis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by S. Grosse of the Centers for Disease Control
o Benefit-Cost Analysis and the Performance of Homeland Security Spending by J. Ghez of the RAND Corporation
o Agency Capabilities and Performance in Applying Benefit-Cost Analysis by R. Belzer of the Regulatory Checkbook
o The Influence of Economists in the Federal health, Safety and Environmental Agencies by R. Williams of George Mason University

* Panel 4 – International Issues and Applications: 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Panel Char: Jack Knetsch of Simon Fraser University
o Potential Practices for Integrating International Impacts into Regulatory Impact Analyses by D. Mancini of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget
o Socioeconomic and Financial Evaluation of Infrastructure and Transport Projects with Environmental Impacts by C. Leon, M. Ruiz, and M. Romero of the University of Las Palmas
o Cost-Effectiveness Methods and Practice in Education: A Critical Review of Program Evaluation in Developing Countries by M. Pirog, K. Krutilla, T. Guzman, and C. Dew of Indiana University
o Benefit-Cost Analysis and International Collective Action: The Case of Climate Change by D. Cole of Indiana University

* Panel 5 – Time, Mortality, and Quality of Life: 11:00a.m.-12:15p.m.
Panel Chair: TBD
o Incorporating Nonmarket Time Into Benefit-Cost Analyses of Social Programs by D. Greenberg of the University of Maryland, and P. Robins of the University of Miami
o Changing Profiles: Lags and the Social Rate of Time Preference by Topic by K. Patora of the Washington State Department of Ecology
o Should Agencies Value Mortality Risk Reductions Differently Depending on the Context? by L. Robinson
o Valuation of Quality of Life Losses Associated with Nonfatal Injury: Insights from Jury Verdict Data by D. Aiken and W. Zamula of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

* Buffet Lunch and Society Meeting: 12:15-1:45 p.m.

* Panel 6 – Methods Pushing Boundaries: 1:45-3:00 p.m.
Panel Chair: David Weimer of the University of Wisconsin
o Policy Establishment Costs: The Normative Implications for Benefit-Cost Analysis by K. Krutilla of Indiana University
o Environmental Decisions without Benefit-Cost Analysis: A Ranking-Based Alternative by J. Horowtiz and J. Quiggin of the University of Maryland-College Park
o The Irrelevance of the Compensation Test by R. Zerbe of the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington
o Using Benefit Cost Analysis to Assess Nonprofit Performance by J. Cordes and C. Coventry of George Washington University

Society for Benefit Cost Analysis via Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington
http://evans.washington.edu/node/760
http://evans.washington.edu/node/760

Permalink 02:05:20 pm, by damageva Email , 169 words, 173 views   English (US)
Categories: Asia, Academic Study/Journal Article, Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Regulatory Analysis, Costs and Benefits

Assessing the Implementation Effects of the Biosafety Protocol's Proposed Stringent Information Requirements for Genetically Modified Commodities in Countries of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation

Abstract: We analyze the potential effects of a generalized implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety's proposed stringent information requirements on countries, members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). This rule would request all traded shipments containing living modified organisms intended for food, feed, or processing to carry a label with the list of precise genetically modified (GM) events in the shipments. We find that the benefits of such requirements are largely debatable and that this regulation would add significant implementation costs for importers of GM crops, for Protocol members adopting new GM crops, and for countries ratifying the Protocol.

by Guillaume P. Gruère 1 and Mark W. Rosegrant 2
1. Research Fellow in the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
2. Director, Environment and Production Technology Division, at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Review of Agricultural Economics via Blackwell Publishing www.Blackwell-Synergy.com
Volume 30, Issue 2; Summer, 2008; Pages 214-232
doi:10.1111/j.1467-9353.2008.00401.x
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-9353.2008.00401.x

05/23/08

Analysis of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Tax Proposals

Abstract: The U.S. Congress is considering a set of bills designed to limit the nation's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This paper complements the analysis by Paltsev et al. (2007) of cap-and-trade bills and applies the MIT Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model to carry out an analysis of the tax proposals. Several lessons emerge from this analysis. First, a low starting tax rate combined with a low rate of growth in the tax rate will not reduce emissions significantly. Second, the costs of GHG reductions are reduced with the inclusion of non-CO2 gases in the carbon tax scheme. Third, welfare costs of the policies can be affected by the rate of growth of the tax, even after controlling for cumulative emissions. Fourth, a carbon tax -- like any form of carbon pricing -- is regressive. However, general equilibrium considerations suggest that the short-run measured regressivity may be overstated. Additionally, the regressivity can be offset with a carefully designed rebate of some or all of the revenue. Finally, the carbon tax bills that have been proposed or submitted are for the most part comparable to many of the carbon cap-and-trade proposals that have been suggested. Thus the choice between a carbon tax and cap-and-trade system can be made on the basis of considerations other than their effectiveness at reducing emissions over some control period.

by Gilbert E. Metcalf, Sergey Paltsev, John Reilly, Henry Jacoby and Jennifer F. Holak
National Bureau of Economic Research www.NBER.org
NBER Working Paper No. 13980; Issued in May 2008
http://papers.nber.org/papers/w13980

Corporate Social Responsibility Through an Economic Lens

Abstract: Business leaders, government officials, and academics are focusing considerable attention on the concept of "corporate social responsibility" (CSR), particularly in the realm of environmental protection. Beyond complete compliance with environmental regulations, do firms have additional moral or social responsibilities to commit resources to environmental protection? How should we think about the notion of firms sacrificing profits in the social interest? May they do so within the scope of their fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders? Can they do so on a sustainable basis, or will the forces of a competitive marketplace render such efforts and their impacts transient at best? Do firms, in fact, frequently or at least sometimes behave this way, reducing their earnings by voluntarily engaging in environmental stewardship? And finally, should firms carry out such profit-sacrificing activities (i.e., is this an efficient use of social resources)? We address these questions through the lens of economics, including insights from legal analysis and business scholarship.

by Forest L. Reinhardt, Robert N. Stavins and Richard H. K. Vietor
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) www.NBER.org
NBER Working Paper No. 13989; Issued in May 2008
http://papers.nber.org/papers/w13989

05/22/08

New Trend in Biofuels Has New Risks

In the past year, as the diversion of food crops like corn and palm to make biofuels has helped to drive up food prices, investors and politicians have begun promoting newer, ...second-generation biofuels.... These, made from non-food crops like reeds and wild grasses, would offer fuel without the risk of taking food off the table, they said.

But now, biologists and botanists are warning that .. most of these newer crops are ... invasive species — [with potential to], overrun adjacent farms ... and create economic and ecological havoc in the process.
...
The European Union is funding a project to introduce the “giant reed, a high-yielding, non-food plant into Europe Union agriculture”.
...
Second-generation biofuel crops .. are easy to grow and need little attention. But that is also what creates their invasive potential.
...
Stas Burgiel, a scientist at the Nature Conservancy, said the cost of controlling invasive species is immense and generally not paid by those who created the problem.

But ... some of the second-generation biofuel crops could still be safe if introduced into the right places and under the right conditions

The Global Invasive Species Program estimates that the damage from invasive species costs the world more than $1.4 trillion annually — five percent of the global economy.

Jatropha, the darling of the second-generation biofuels community, is now being cultivated widely in East Africa, [but it is poisonous and potentially invasive and has been recently banned by two Australian states].
...
By Elisabeth Rosenthal
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/21/science/earth/21biofuels.html?th&emc=th
The New York Times www.NYTimes.com
Published: May 21, 2008

Venture capitalists see the light

Clean-tech venture capitalists have taken a shine to Silicon Valley makers of LEDs..., seeing a growing potential for these semiconductor-based light sources in streetlights and parking lots, in concert venues [gymnasiums and homes].

According to the Cleantech Group, a San Francisco researcher and conference organizer, venture-capital investments into lighting technologies reached $100 million in 2008's first quarter. That ranked behind only biofuel and solar among clean-tech categories.

"The way we light things today uses 25 percent of our energy in the United States," said Alain Harrus, a partner at Crosslink Capital, a San Francisco venture firm with investments in two lighting companies, Intematix of Fremont, Calif., and Luxim of Sunnyvale, Calif.
...
Most consumers know LEDs [from] Christmas trees, ... calculators, and ... cellphones. But they're increasingly found in televisions [and] medical devices....

Several Silicon Valley companies — BridgeLux in Sunnyvale, Osram Opto Semiconductor in Santa Clara and Luxim — have either gotten major VC funding recently or have spoken publicly about new developments.
...
Compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs, are touted as a replacement, but they contain traces of mercury, must be recycled and the light quality is imperfect.
...
Wal-Mart, which sold more than 100 million CFLs... in 2007, is using more LEDs.
...
Coupled with motion sensors, LEDs work well in refrigerators and freezers, [turning] on when customers walk by. They're cooler than incandescent lights, saving energy [and] last longer.
...
Makers tout the long-term ownership cost of LEDs, and the bulbs do last about 50,000 hours in some applications. They use about one-sixth the energy of incandescent bulbs.

But they cost more initially. And LED makers have to work with lighting-fixture manufacturers to incorporate them into new products, and that can take a few years.

In a recent survey consumers said they would be willing to pay more for an LED light — $4.70 per bulb, compared with $3 for a CFL and 50 cents for an incandescent bulb — if it used less electricity and had environmental benefits.

Much of the first-quarter LED investment money went to one company — Luminus [which] raised $72 million. ... BridgeLux raised $40 million in April....

By Matt Nauman
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2004423622_btledlights19.html?dlbk
Seattle Times www.seattletimes.com
May 19, 2008

Permalink 02:04:25 pm, by damageva Email , 358 words, 130 views   English (US)
Categories: Energy, Companies,CSR,Business,Finance, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Costs and Benefits

An Oracle of Oil Predicts $200-a-Barrel Crude

Arjun N. Murti ... is bracing for something far worse [than the gas lines of the 1970s] now: He foresees a “super spike” — a price surge that will soon drive crude oil to $200 a barrel.
...
An analyst at Goldman Sachs, Mr. Murti has become the talk of the oil market by issuing one sensational forecast after another. A few years ago, rivals scoffed when he predicted oil would breach $100 a barrel.

Mr. Murti, 39, argues that the world’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for oil means prices will keep rising from here and stay above $100 into 2011. Others disagree, arguing that prices could abruptly tumble if speculators in the market rush for the exits. But the grim calculus of Mr. Murti’s prediction, issued in March and reconfirmed two weeks ago, is enough to give anyone pause: in an America of $200 oil, gasoline could cost more than $6 a gallon.
...
Boone Pickens, the oilman turned corporate raider, said Tuesday that crude would hit $150 this year. But many analysts are no longer so sure where oil is going, at least in the short term. Some say prices will fall as low as $70 a barrel by year-end, according to Thomson Financial.
...
Around the turn of the century, oil company after oil company started missing predicted production.
...
By 2004, he concluded the world was headed for a long supply shock that would push prices through the roof. That summer, as oil traded for about $40 a barrel, Mr. Murti coined what has become his signature phrase: super spike.
...
Mr. Murti falls into the camp of oil analysts who believe that supply is likely to remain tight because of geopolitical factors....

The analysts who predict lower prices say there are supplies of oil that the bullish analysts are missing. “This year will be a year in which supply will be put into the market by stealth by OPEC and by countries we call black-hole countries,” said Edward L. Morse, chief energy economist at Lehman Brothers. China is one example, he said.

By Louise Story

FOR FULL STORY GO TO
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/21/business/21oil.html?th&emc=th
The New York Times www.NYTimes.com
Published May 21, 2008

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Cost-Benefit News

Cost Benefit News covers legal, academic, and regulatory developments pertaining to the valuation of environmental amenities and disamenities, such as clean air, trees, parks, congestion, and noise. We apprise the reader about ways in which costs and benefits are measured, and the results of empirical studies. We hope that this information will allow public and private organizations to comprehend the risks and benefits of various actions, help disputants to resolve conflicts equitably and efficiently, and improve the quality of public policies. We will only discuss issues related to the empirical quantification of private and social costs and benefits and damages, and summarize information from daily newspapers, academic journals, legal publications, court decisions, professional newsletters commissioned studies, and on-line services. This newsletter is dedicated to the principal that all policies place values upon life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We believe that more information, explicit specification of assumptions, and rigorous analysis can help our society to better meet these ends. This site will increasingly serve, in conjunction with others, as a valuation database. We will include a wide range of studies, including non-environmental reports, because omission of a factor effectively values it at zero, and biases decisions. Heavy traffic has caused several site crashes. We are attempting to correct these problems. Apologies for any inconvenience.

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