PUBP 622 Environmental Policy Syllabus (Fall 2015)¶
Instructor: Rob Hicks
Office: Morton 129
Class Time: (Thursday) 4:00-6:20
Class Room: 201 Morton Hall
Environmental Policy examines applied approaches to tackling environmental policy questions by way of case studies. These case studies are comprised of a theoretical introduction, policy simulation, and policy recommendations. We will be developing simulation tools for designing and understanding the effects of environmental policy. These simulations will incorporate researcher uncertainty with respect to preference parameters held by agents (people) affected by the policy under consideration. No prior programming experience is required but is certainly a major plus.
This course will require you to program in Python and for those who have no programming experience will be a very serious undertaking. You will need to have a rudimentary understanding (or a willingness to learn on your own) linear algebra and be comfortable with intermediate microeconomics. To get a quick feel for what simple programming in Python entails, examine some of my blog posts (https://rlhick.people.wm.edu).
A student who puts in the time and work to master the course materials will have a good understanding of the technical underpinnings of benefit-cost analysis and applied policy analysis for environmental problems. Furthermore, you will learn how to use the Python scientific computing platform.
It is important to note that this class
- Will not cover descriptions and summaries of current US environmental policy, except where needed for our policy analysis. If you are looking for a survey course of US federal and local environmental policy, this course will not do it.
- Cover the application of some simple microeconomic models to environmental problems by policy simulation which will sometimes use actual data (for example, the power industry and local land-use).
|To be determined||Computer Labs|
|October 12 & 13||Fall Break|
|October 15||Mid-Term (take home) No Class|
|December 8||Final Exam (9-12pm)|
Will only be used for posting grades.
I am available on Tuesdays from 4pm-6pm, or by appointment. If my door is open, you are free to drop by at any other time.
I will respond to emails but only if they contain the tag [PUBP622] in the subject line. If they do not, the google will likely delete your email.
Your grade will be based on a Mid-term (30%), 4 problem sets (40% each) and a Final Exam (30%). All exams in the course will be take home exams.
Travel and Makeup Dates¶
Because of grant and other commitments, I may miss a few classes (if I know in advance, these are noted in the Key Dates table outlined above). To make up for any lectures I may miss, I may schedule a two hour makeup class occuring at a time and place to be determined.
On certain days to be determined, we will meet in Morton 244 for some hands-on work with Python.
You might find the latest version of the textbook Environmental and Natural Resource Economics by Tom Teitenberg and Lynne Lewis (I believe this is ISBN: 0321485718) useful for this course particularly if you aren't a Public Policy graduate student. Older editions are probably sufficient for your needs. I will place a copy on reserve at the Library. Additional readings are on the course blackboard site. Additionally, the book Public Policies for Environmental Protection by Portney and Stavins is an excellent Environmental Policy resource. The book summarizes major U.S. Environmental Policy with an eye towards critiquing it based on the notions of efficiency and cost effectiveness. The chapters are linked in the syllabus below (although some pages are apparently greyed out) and the Law School has a copy in their library. All other readings and this syllabus can be found in the course's google docs site found at http://goo.gl/mpFhGm.
Policy on Late Assignments¶
Course assignments must be turned in on time. Late work will be accepted for up to two additional days with Saturday and Sunday counting as 1 day in total) with a letter grade deduction for each late day. After two days, late assignments will not be accepted. The course final project is due at the time of the final exam and University policy will not allow me to accept it after that time. See below for some examples:
|Due||Date Turned in||Your Grade||Your Grade after Penalty|
|Thursday||Saturday or Sunday||A||C|
|Tuesday||Friday||A||F (not accepted)|
|Thursday||Monday||A||F (not accepted)|
For some assignments, I might ask you to turn in a hardcopy version of your work. You may give it to me in person, put it in my box in Morton 110, or slide it under my door in Morton 129. Should you not give it to me in person and the work goes missing, you remain responsible for getting me your work on time to avoid late assignment penalties.
Grade Discrepancies and Grade Questions¶
I am happy to discuss questions you have about your grade on class assignments. Any questions you have regarding a potential grade change on an assignment must be cleared up within 1 week of recieving your work back from me. The only exception to this policy is if I made an arithmetic error or data entry in adding your score up and entering it into blackboard.
Order of Topics¶
A Primer on the Tools¶
- Installing Python
- Introduction to Python and Linear algebra
- Python Pandas
- And this excellent youtube video (optional)
- Brief Introduction to Market Failure in Economics
- Python Primer
- Solving for market equilibrium
- Solving for Pigouvian Efficient Tax and Equilibrium
- Adding in attribute and preference heterogeneity
- Tietenberg and Lewis (Chap. 2)
- Ge et al.
Regulating Uniformly Mixing Pollutants¶
- Microeconomic Introduction to Pollution Permits and Taxes
- Background on US Air Pollution Policy
- Explore EPA Air Market Data in Python
- Model Firm and Industry behavior in Python
- Model Permit Trading Equilibrium (with initial permit allocation mechanism)
- Model Pollution Fee Equilibrium
- Tietenberg and Lewis (Chaps 14-16); Teitenberg; Stavins; Kreutzer
- The EPA Program on the Sulfur Dioxide trading program
- Public Policies for Environmental Protection, Chapter 3
- Public Policies for Environmental Protection, Chapter 4
- The economics of common property open access
- Brief overview of fisheries management and policy
- Model population dynamics
- Model firm and industry behavior
- Model outcomes comparing effort restrictions and ex-vessel taxes
- Tietenberg and Lewis (Chaps 13)
The following topics as time allows.
Regulating Non-Uniformly Mixing Pollutants¶
- Microeconomic Introduction to NUM Pollutants
- Background on US Water Pollution Policy
- Model Natural system discharges and simple hydrodynamics
- Model Firm and Industry Behavior under permit trading and pollution fees.
- Model trading ratios when regulator uncertainty
- Tietenberg and Lewis (Chaps 18, and pages 376-382)
- Hanson et al.
- The EPA Nutrient Trading Program
- Public Policies for Environmental Protection, Chapter 6
- The economics of enforcement and compliance
- Overview of US Biodiversity Policy
- Modeling of regulator and firm behavior
- Implications for Private Biodiversity Preservation
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species Program