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Sleeping with the Enemy: Economists who Side with Polluters

Coasians and other defenders of “property rights” have captured mainstream economics to the detriment of public interest in our shared environment.. A personal story:

Sleeping with . . . → Read More: Sleeping with the Enemy: Economists who Side with Polluters

A Severance Tax on California Oil?

California has long been and remains a major oil-extracting state. It is the largest gasoline consumer by far, at the highest prices. Its fields were yielding up hydrocarbons not long ago when oil was at $10/bbl or less, and natural gas was a drug on the market. There is much economic rent there. And yet California is the only . . . → Read More: A Severance Tax on California Oil?

Whose Water? Ours: Clearing Fallacies about Implementing Common Rights

The late Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana in 1922 suffered the fate of Oregon’s Congressman Al Ullman: he was retired by the voters for proposing a national sales tax. Thereafter, he mellowed into being a scholar and biographer. In these philosophical years he wrote “You know, I’ve learned in the Widener Library at Harvard that most of what I was taught . . . → Read More: Whose Water? Ours: Clearing Fallacies about Implementing Common Rights

The Taxable Surplus in Water Values

Taxes or rental charges for water use are bearable and legal and would spur water economy, but the following fallacies impede acceptance of these ideas: (1) water rights are real property, (ii) a charge on water would be passed on to consumers, (iii) the cost of water is just its development cost, (iv) markets solve most problems if property rights . . . → Read More: The Taxable Surplus in Water Values

What Price Water Marketing? California’s New Frontier

We can multiply the value of output from limited natural water supplies by allocating them to higher uses. To this end we need a market in raw water, but existing markets work badly, for several reasons. Sellers are undermotivated, absent taxes or debt. Free groundwater subverts the pricing of surface water. Loss of elevation, and damage from effluents, and in stream . . . → Read More: What Price Water Marketing? California’s New Frontier

How a Water Market Might Work

This will not be a perfect market. There will be only one seller, and the buyers will surely form a user’s association. But this should not deter us. No human institution is perfect, except some that are perfectly awful. The present water market is one of these, and the point is to make it less awful. Maximum feasible improvement is the . . . → Read More: How a Water Market Might Work

The Water Giveaway: A Critique of Federal Water Policy

The many wasteful policies and procedures in federal water resources programs have been much analyzed by economists and other scholars. Agency benefit-cost practices have been found wanting. Benefit estimates have been biased upward and cost estimates downward. Environmental effects of projects, often adverse, are not weighted enough. I generally endorse the thrust of these criticisms and will not repeat them . . . → Read More: The Water Giveaway: A Critique of Federal Water Policy

Economic Aspects of Water Policy

This article reports what I as an economist think I have learned from the experience of the western states in economizing on water, which may suggest what eastern researchers might learn by directing some of their efforts toward sifting and evaluating the western history. This is one area in which history flowed backwards: the western evolution anticipated that in the East . . . → Read More: Economic Aspects of Water Policy