Connecting the Dots, Collecting the Drops

global-water-volume-freshI love this picture – as it puts into perspective the importance of Earth’s finite water resources.  The largest, blue sphere represents the total volume of all water on Earth.  The medium size one over Kentucky represents all useable freshwater, including surface and groundwater.  And the tiniest one over Atlanta, hardly visible, represents the amount of water in lakes and streams, the same water that gets recycled and filtered everyday through biological systems and has been available to sustain life for millions of years.  It’s limited, that’s all there is.  Just think, the water you drink from your tap was at one time filtered through the kidneys of dinosaur.  Someone’s waste is another’s treasure or, in this case, water.   Continue reading

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Coase and Environmental Externalities

With the recent passing of Ronald Coase, much tribute has rightly been given to his inordinate contributions to the world of economics, here by Peter Boetkke and here by Patrick Lyons of the NYT.  I’m not an economist and don’t even pretend to be one on TV, but have followed and appreciated Coase’s contributions to the scholarship of environmental policy involving the economic problem of environmental externalities.  Most modern economists, save Coase, believe that environmental pollution is the result of market failure.  Adler has a good piece today on Coase’s rejection of the concept of externalities and corrects those who may misunderstand or misinterpret Coase’s argument.  According to Coase, when property rights are clear and well-defined, contracting parties, including the polluter, will allocate resources effectively and efficiently, as the economic benefits and costs – read environmental – are fully borne by the effected parties.  This idea was coined the Coase TheoremContinue reading

To EPA’s New Administrator – Don’t Forget About the Water

As many of you who read this blog know, I talk a lot about the water problems that still plague our Nation.  The remaining sources of water pollution remain many and diffuse and are particularly local in nature (defined as nonpoint sources under the Clean Water Act), which the Act does not authorize EPA to directly regulate.  Rather, the solutions to reducing and eliminating nonpoint source pollution is the primary responsibility of the States as stated in Section 101

It is the national policy that programs for the control of nonpoint sources of pollution be developed and implemented in an expeditious manner so as to enable the goals of [the Act] to be met through the control of both point and nonpoint sources of pollution.  Section 101(a)(7) Continue reading