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

Conservation 2.0 – regulations alone won’t fix a broken earth

I spent some quality time this week in the wonderful city of Cincinnati, home of the great WKRP radio, with a lot of tremendous folks discussing how we as a society can make meaningful progress toward protecting the environment and restoring our nation’s rivers, streams and estuaries.  This was a great week for Conservation 2.0 as Joe Whitworth of The Freshwater Trust likes to call it.   Continue reading

Nature’s Resilience – Chesapeake Bay and Signs of Hope

Promising news flowing from the Chesapeake Bay.  U.S. EPA is reporting that pollutants, such as phosphorous, nitrogen, and sediment, entering the Bay have fallen significantly since 2009.  And the Bay is showing resilience as its inhabitants, such as bluecrabblue crabs, oysters, and rockfish are beginning to show signs of thriving once again.  While much credit goes to the U.S. EPA, USDA, and the Bay States for continuing to work tirelessly to fix a very complicated environmental and sociological problem, we can thank many organizations, landowners, farmers, businesses, and local communities for their individual actions which collectively have resulted in a positive good. Continue reading