Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Topics in the news

Nationally, two big stories related to natural resource econ are making headlines:

1. New auto and emissions rules

Gallup has some survey results about how Americans feel about standards

2. The Waxman-Markey Climate Bill currently in the House

Krugman has an interesting take on it in today's paper
(note: Kruman is a Nobel Prize winning economist, and is pretty liberal)

Locally, we also have two big issues:

1. Titan Cement
Note the links to many other stories about this topic on the left under "related stories"
Also, if you search back in this blog to September 2008, you'll find lots of related discussion.

2. The legality and desireability of using hardened structures to prevent beach erosion

Suppose we were interested in studying one of these. How might the tools of natural resource economics be useful? What research questions might we want to address? Why would it be important to remain objective (i.e. employ positive analysis rather than normative analysis)?


Jeff Arato said...

This comment is about the article New Auto Regulations. First something about myself is that I love cars and motorcycles so i found this article very interesting. The article states that all new cars starting 2012 will have to get 35.5 mpg which is bascially what the hybrid cars are doing now. that is a huge step up in mpg, I know my 1.8t jetta only gets about 20 mpg so that is a extra 15.5 mpg and that can equal lots of savings at the pump. Also with the new rergulations we would see a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas produced by cars and a reduction of oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels between 2012-2016 that could drametically decrease our dependence on foreign oil. In closing I feel that these new regulations could not only help us, as consumers of gasoline, but also help the environment by keeping it safe to go outside and breath the air.
do you have any sugestions?

Alyssa said...

First off, I loved the article from Krugman and fully agree that after years of inactivity in the realm of substantial environmental protection the Waxman-Markey bill is the most viable plan addressing global climate change thus far. Though it may not be perfect, it is a great starting point.

As for the discussion question, I am choosing to address the local issue of Titan Cement. First and foremost, positive analysis must be used in approaching this issue due to its great controversy in the Cape Fear region. It is quite difficult to dispute scientific fact and finds, but quite simple to dispute and negate matters that incorporate opinions. Simplifying a complex issue, the two sides in this debate can be labeled the pro-economic side, supporting Titan being constructed in our area and gaining the economic benefits of increased industry and the opposing pro-environmental side, arguing that the Cape Fear region is fragile environmentally and the proposed plant would have great environmental repercussions. Research questions to be addressed in this issue include: is Titan Cement Company following state environmental law, completing an EIS and SEPA, are nonvalue items being factored into development decisions, is this the best place for the plant economically, and arguably most important of all, will the environmental costs outweigh the economic benefits?

Brittany Roy said...

New auto and emissions rule:
I was actually watching the news last night where I saw mentioned the new 35.5 mpg regulation to take effect in 2012 so I was pretty interested in reading this article. I have a few questions though. Is this new regulation strictly for the automobile industry? How will this affect people with existing vehicles who don't necessarily have the money to purchase a more efficient vehicle? Will their be a sort of timelime we will have to change over when this new regulation takes effect. Im not arguing against the new regulation. In fact I think it's great the percentage of emissions that will be eliminated as well as the amount of money everyone will save in the long-run. I guess my question is how smooth will the transition be and what will be our part (not the auto industry) in conforming?

Drew Moxon said...

The emissions rule is only on new vehicles purchased. You don't have to convert an old vehicle. Also, a raise in CAFE standards doesn't take into account the increase in driving due to lower fuel costs. It will depend on the elasticity. Finally, it would also be helpful if it was changed over from GPHM (gallons per hundred miles) as opposed to miles per gallon. Marginal increases in MPG standards are not linear in their effects.

Kendyll Goeman said...

I think that Obama’s emission reduction is a huge success. As an Environmental Studies Major, my anthropocentric values sway to the side of conservation efforts. This legislation was an agreement between 15 states, automakers, and the Federal Government. If we look back to the fisherman discussion question, the main problem with one fisherman not fishing for a day was that society’s benefits would not add up to the costs the farmer would pay. This emission legislation closes the gap between the costs of modern conveniences and the benefits of clean air. The Gallup poll is interesting because it shows that most Americans polled supported the emission reductions, would not vote for a candidate that tried to raise them, and only slightly believed that the environment was more important than the economy. I think that the Marky Waxman Plan’s emission reducing goals are noble, but I’m anxious to see how the incentives to industries are handled. Will more greenhouse gas emitting industries be constructed since they will be receiving government aide?
I’m very excited that the NC Senate passed the bill to delay the construction of the Titan Cement Plant while further research is conducted on the harm of its pollutants. Taking the precautionary steps now can save the government from later industry incentives or higher taxes to cover unknown negative externalities. I do wonder though, how the plans for the Titan Cement Plant have been kept from public knowledge until the last possible second. Bills delaying the construction or turning the plant away wouldn’t be needed if the public had been aware of the plant’s proposal to move here from the start. Gareth McGrath presents evidence that convinces the reader that terminal groins benefits are worth the exorbitant costs.
If we were interested in studying the issue of building a hardened structure to prevent beach erosion we would use cost and demand charts. We would have to address the amount of revenue attained through beach tourism and see if the state would benefit from building a costly structure in the future. We could compare this to the erosion predictions and determine how much longer the beaches will sustain. It would be important to be objective because those directly affected by beach erosion (beach front houses) may want the quickest fix.

Juliana Yorio said...

1. I like that the new regulations will help to reduce a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and trucks. It is interesting to note how Obama has established a different environmental perspective through his initiative in comparison to that of the Bush administration.
2. I agree with Kruman that although the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill is not perfect it does provide a chance for greenhouse gases to decrease over time.

1. Obviously, it is a good idea for there to be greater debate before the cement plant is built. This situation could have been prevented if residents had been made aware of the proposed construction from the beginning. Unfortunately, the state is put in a precarious position if John Merritt’s comments are correct and the state invited Titan and awarded them incentive grants.
2. The inlet sand-stoppers are expensive and there seems to be opposing view points on whether the investment is worth the trouble. There needs to be greater research concerning the cost of the sand-stoppers and how efficient the sand-stoppers will be. Then, a comparison on if the benefits outweigh the costs can be made and a true consensus can be formed.

James Marshall said...

I like that bills dealing with cuting back nonrenewable resources are being presented in congress. The question is though, can the politicians do waht is best for society or will they listen to oil companies who give campane funds. I agree gas milage should be higher, but if I could go 35 miles on a gallon i would drive more. Interesting point Drew about switching from MPG to GPHM.