Results from a survey of members of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE), the leading professional organization of economists studying environmental and resource issues, found that 80 percent disagree that reducing the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory power will improve the U.S. economy.

“Markets, left alone, often fail to address environmental issues, and that is not good for the economy or society,” said the survey’s co-author Tim Haab, chair of the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics at The Ohio State University. The department is part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. “It is significant that 96 percent of members surveyed disagree that unregulated markets provide public goods in optimal quantities.”

Haab pointed out that the survey was conducted in 2012 well before the current presidential cycle and yielded results that were not in any way influenced by the current debate over the Trump administration’s proposed significant policy and budget changes to the EPA.

If approved, the changes to the EPA would weaken various air and water regulations and, according to a consensus of the survey’s respondents, would be unlikely to improve the U.S. economy, Haab said.

The survey results show that environmental economists typically recognize the value of market-based solutions to environmental problems, Haab said. For example, the survey shows that 86 percent agree with the statement, “Emissions taxes or marketable emissions permits are a more economically efficient approach to pollution control than emissions standards.”

 

The survey has identified issues on which AERE members agree and disagree and can inform non-economists on the degree to which there is consensus in the profession on key issues, Haab said.  If heeded, information gleaned from surveys of this kind could help the media and policy makers avoid and correct misperceptions about current economic thought on approaches to policy issues, he said.