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Economics for Health and the Environment

The environmental, health, and safety regulations enacted in the past thirty years, some of our society's proudest accomplishments, are under siege today. An economic critique of traditional regulation, which was gaining strength in the 1990s, has become increasingly influential in policy-making.

GDAE's program in Economics for Health and the Environment addresses the need expressed by advocates for responses to cost-benefit analysis and anti-environmental economic arguments. Our projects are designed to help build the capabilities of environmental organizations to respond to anti-environmental arguments couched in economic terms. Our work demonstrates the weakness of the new anti-environmental economics, in theory and in practice, and contributes to the growing body of affirmative economics supporting precautionary approaches to public policy.

Program Areas of Focus:

Health and Environment Publications
(To be notified of new GDAE publications, click here)

"Why Metrics Matter: Evaluating Policy Choices for Reactive Nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed," by Melissa B.L. Birch, Benjamin M. Gramig, William R. Moomaw, Otto C. Doering III and Carson J. Reeling. Environmental Science & Technology 45, 168-174, 2011.

Poisoned for Pennies: The Economics of Toxics and Precaution, by Frank Ackerman, Island Press, 2008. This book shows how the misuse of cost-benefit analysis is impeding efforts to clean up and protect our environment, especially in the case of toxic chemicals.

"The Economics of Atrazine," by Frank Ackerman; International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, volume 13 no. 4, (Oct-Dec 2007), pp.441-449.

“European Chemical Policy and the United States: The Impacts of REACH,” by Frank Ackerman, Liz Stanton, and Rachel Massey. September, 2006.

Can Climate Change Save Lives? A comment on “Economy-wide estimates of the implications of climate change: Human health,” by Frank Ackerman and Liz Stanton. September 2006.

"Implications of REACH for the Developing Countries," by Frank Ackerman (principal author), Liz Stanton, Rachel Massey, Brian Roach, and others; report from the International Chemical Secretariat (Chemsec) to the European Parliament. March, 2006. Also available in French: "Les Implications De Reach Pour Les Pays En Développement"

"The Unbearable Lightness of Regulatory Costs," by Frank Ackerman. February, 2006.

"French Industry and Sustainable Chemistry: The Benefits of Clean Development," by Frank Ackerman and Rachel Massey, October 2005. Also available translated into French: "Industrie Française Et Chimie Durable : Les Bénéfices Du Développement Propre"

"Building a Healthy Economy: Chemicals Risk Management as a Driver of Development," by Rachel Massey, report for the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate, September 2005.

"The Ripple Effect", by Frank Ackerman, an op-ed article about REACH published in Parliament Magazine, a magazine from Brussels (in English), April 2005.

"Surviving REACH: A Guide for Companies that Use Chemicals", by Rachel Massey, The International Chemical Secretariat (Chemsec), March 2005. Also available in German [link to German version].

"The True Costs of REACH", by Frank Ackerman and Rachel Massey, Nordic Council of Ministers, December 2004.

Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing,
by Frank Ackerman and Lisa Heinzerling, The New Press, 2004. This book critiques the arguments used to justify the current attacks on health, safety, and the environment.

"Morality, Cost-Benefit, and the Price of Life", by Frank Ackerman, The Environmental Law Institute, 2004. Reprinted by Permission from The Environmental Forum, September/October, 2004.

"Organic Turf Management at Tufts" by Shannon Nally with Rachel Massey, Caleb McClennen, and Dina Dubson. A project of the Tufts Institute for the Environment (TIE) and the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE), September 2004.

"Applying Cost-Benefit Analysis to Past Decision: Was Protecting the Environment Ever a Good Idea?", by Frank Ackerman, Lisa Heinzerling, and Rachel Massey, Center for Progressive Regulation White Paper #401, July 2004.

"Flimsy Firewalls: The Continuing Triumph of Efficiency over Safety in Regulating Mad Cow Risks", by Thomas O. McGarity with Frank Ackerman, a report from the Center for Progressive Regulation, July 2004.

"The Outer Bounds of the Possible: Economic Theory, Precaution, and Dioxin", by Frank Ackerman. In this paper, given at the Dioxin 2003 conference, Frank Ackerman explores the economic rationale for the precautionary principle, and sketches the application of the theory to policy toward dioxin. 2003.

"The Economics of Phasing Out PVC", by Frank Ackerman and Rachel Massey. An in-depth analysis of the economics of phasing out polyvinyl chloride (PVC) finds that good substitutes are available for countless PVC products; contrary to widespread fears, the costs of a phaseout will be modest. December 2003.

"Costs of Preventable Childhood Illness: The Price We Pay for Pollution", by Rachel Massey and Frank Ackerman. Global Development and Environment Institute Working Paper 03-09, September 2003.

"Prospering with Precaution", by Frank Ackerman and Rachel Massey. In this commissioned report for the Massachusetts-based Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, the authors argue that implementing the precautionary principle is not just good science, it is also good economics. (Report published August 2002.)

Pricing the Priceless: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Environmental Regulation, by Frank Ackerman and Lisa Heinzerling, published by the Environmental Law and Policy Institute of the Georgetown University Law Center, 2002.

"Alternatives to PVC: An Economic Analysis," by Frank Ackerman, presentation delivered at the U.S. Green Building Conference in Austin, Texas, November 2002.

Comments to EPA on Power Plant Regulations: GDAE submitted two sets of comments to the US Environmental Protection Agency on its cost-benefit analysis of regulating power plant cooling water intake systems. (August 2002 comments; June 2003 comments.)

"Uses and Abuses of Economic Analysis in Setting Stormwater Regulations", Comments by Frank Ackerman on EPA's proposal to regulate stormwater runoff from construction and development sites.

"Tree Huggers No Longer!" by Frank Ackerman, a review of Bjorn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the State of the Real World, as it appeared in The Nation, March 25, 2002.

"High Risk Economics: Gambling on Cost-Benefit Analysis for Arsenic Standards." Comments submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, August 2000.

"Getting the Prices Wrong: The Limits of Market-Based Environmental Policy."Frank Ackerman and Kevin Gallagher, GDAE Working Paper 00-05. October 2000.

"The Billion-Dollar Bonus", by Kayo Tajima and Frank Ackerman, op-ed article from The Boston Globe on the value of creating open spaces following major highway project.

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