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Products: Roumasset, James

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Optimal and Sustainable Groundwater Extraction

With the specter of climate change, groundwater scarcity looms as an increasingly critical issue worldwide. Minimizing the adverse effects of scarcity requires optimal as well as sustainable patterns of groundwater management. We review the many sustainable paths for groundwater extraction from a coastal aquifer and show how to find the particular sustainable path that is optimal. In some cases the optimal path converges to the maximum sustainable yield. For sufficiently convex extraction costs, the extraction path converges to an internal steady state above the level of maximum sustainable yield. We describe the challenges facing groundwater managers faced with multiple aquifers, the prospect of using recycled water, and the interdependence with watershed management. The integrated water management thus described results in less water scarcity and higher total welfare gains from groundwater use. The framework also can be applied to climate- change specifications about the frequency, duration, and intensity of precipitation by comparing before and after optimal management. For the case of South Oahu in Hawaii, the prospect of climate change increases the gains of integrated groundwater management.

working paper

Optimal Management of a Hawaiian Coastal Aquifer with Near-Shore Marine Ecological Interactions

We optimize groundwater management in the presence of marine consequences of submarine groundwater discharge (SGD). Concern for marine biota increases the optimal steady-state head level of the aquifer. The model is discussed in general terms for any coastal groundwater resource where SGD has a positive impact on valuable near-shore resources. Our application focuses of the Kona Coast of Hawai’i, where SGD is being actively studied and where both near-shore ecology and groundwater resources are serious socio-political issues. To incorporate the consequences of water extraction on nearshore resources, we impose a safe minimum standard for the quantity of SGD. Efficient pumping rates fluctuate according to various growth requirements on the keystone marine algae and different assumptions regarding recharge rates. Desalination is required under average recharge conditions and a strict minimum standard, and under low recharge conditions regardless of minimum standards of growth.

working paper

Wither The Economics of Agricultural Development?

In spite of healthy demand for a renaissance in economic policy for agricultural development, the academic supply response is found wanting. The infusion of public economics into the economics of agricultural development, which thrived during the 1970s and 80s, has stagnated due to the lack of foundations in transaction costs, dynamics, and the co-evolution of specialization and governance. Many of the policy ideas found in the World Bank’s, WDR 08, for example, reflect a post-modern tendency to seek and destroy market failures with new mandates and subsidies for farmer cooperatives, microfinance, crop insurance, and land reform. The new development microeconomics favors form over substance and overemphasizes multiple equilibria, trap theories, new market failures, and the new case for social insurance. Empirical research has likewise suffered from the quest for clever instruments and methods instead of informative results that estimate parameters of established theories, distinguish between competing theories, or challenge theory to explain empirical patterns. These latest fads and fancies have distracted economists from the quest for fundamental explanations of development patterns, especially the nature and causes of specialization as an engine of growth. The stage is set for young dynamic scholars to develop new tools of analysis to explain empirical patterns in behavior and organization in developing agriculture and to build the foundations of a public microeconomics of development.

working paper


Invasive Species Control over Space and Time: Miconia calvescens on Oahu, Hawaii

We use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to map the current and future populations of an invasive species, Miconia calvescens, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, and the potential damages to water quantity, water quality, endangered bird habitat, and native habitat housing endangered plants, snails, and insects. We develop a control cost function that includes locating and treating Miconia plants. Using optimal control theory, we find the spatially dependent optimal population levels of Miconia and the paths to these populations over time.

Published: Burnett, K. M., Kaiser, B. A., and Roumasset, J. A., 2007. Invasive Species Control over Space and Time: Miconia calvescens on Oahu, Hawaii. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 39 (October 2007), 125-132.

Working Paper version

Renewable resource management with stock externalities: Coastal aquifers and submarine groundwater discharge

This paper develops a hydrologic-ecologic-economic model of groundwater use. Particularly, we model coastal groundwater management and its effects on submarine groundwater discharge, nearshore marine water quality, and marine biota. We show that incorporating the external effects on nearshore resources increases the optimal sustainable steady-state head level. Numerical simulations are illustrated using data from the Kuki’o region on the island of Hawaii. Two different approaches for incorporating the nearshore resource are examined. Including algae’s market value in the objective function results in only slightly lower rates of extraction. When a minimum constraint is placed on the stock of the keystone species, however, greater conservation may be indicated. The constraint also results in non-monotonic paths of water extraction, head level, and water price in the optimal solution.

Published: Pongkijvorasin, S., Roumasset, J., Duarte, T. K., and Burnett, K., 2010. Renewable resource management with stock externalities: Coastal aquifers and submarine groundwater discharge. Resource and Energy Economics, 32 (3), 277-291.

 working paper version

Resource management for Sustainable Development of Island Economies

What is the role of resource management in sustaining competitiveness for island economies such as the Republic of the Philippines and Hawaii? We review the history of thought on sustainable resource management and sustainable development and then turn to the threats to sustainability from the resource curse and the parallel curse of paradise. We show how the resource curse undermines the pursuit of sustainability and describe innovations in governance that can transform the curse into a blessing.

working paper

Environmental Resources and Economic Growth

This chapter assesses the nature and degree of environmental degradation and resource depletion in China and their relationship to economic activity and envi- ronmental policies. We describe regulatory and other policies and consider their political economy determinants. Inasmuch as this objective can only be partially achieved, we hope to contribute to a research agenda for environmental and resource economics in China.

Book Chapter

Beyond the lamppost: Optimal prevention and control of the Brown Tree Snake in Hawaii

We develop an integrated model for the prevention and control of an invasive species. The generality of the model allows its use for both existing and potential threats to the system of interest. The deterministic nature of arrivals in the model enables clear examination of the tradeoffs inherent when choosing between prevention and control strategies. We illuminate how optimal expenditure paths change in response to various biological and economic parameters for the case of the Brown Tree Snake in Hawaii. Results suggest that it is more advantageous to spend money finding the small population of snakes as they occur than attempting to prevent all future introductions. Like the drunk that looks for his keys only where the light is, public policy may fail to look “beyond the lamppost” for snakes that have already arrived but have not yet been detected. Actively searching for a potential population of snakes rather than waiting for an accidental discovery may save Hawaii tens to hundreds of millions of dollars in future damages, interdiction expenditures, and control costs.

Published: Burnett, K. M., D'Evelyn, S., Kaiser, B. A., Nantamanasikarn, P. and Roumasset, J. A., 2008. Beyond the lamppost: Optimal prevention and control of the Brown Tree Snake in Hawaii. Ecological Economics, 67 (1), 66-74.

working paper version

Optimal Prevention and Control of Invasive Species: The Case of the Brown Treesnake

This dissertation examines the optimal management of a nuisance species that threatens but is not thought to be prevalent in an ecosystem. The three central chapters focus on integrated prevention and control of the Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis) in Hawaii.


Learning-by-catching: Uncertain invasive-species populations and the value of information

This paper develops a model of invasive species control when the species’ population size is unknown. In the face of an uncertain population size, a resource manager’s species-control efforts provide two potential benefits: (1) a direct benefit of possibly reducing the population of invasive species, and (2) an indirect benefit of information acquisition (due to learning about the population size, which reduces uncertainty). We provide a methodology that takes into account both of these benefits, and show how optimal management decisions are altered in the presence of the indirect benefit of learning. We then apply this methodology to the case of controlling the Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis) on the island of Saipan. We find that the indirect benefit—the value of information to reduce uncertainty—is likely to be quite large.

Published: D'Evelyn, S. T., Tarui, N., Burnett, K. and Roumasset, J. A., 2008. Learning-by-catching: Uncertain invasive-species populations and the value of information.  Journal of Envrionmental Management, 89, 284-292.

working paper version

The Economic Value of Watershed Conservation

Watershed conservation creates benefits within and beyond the management area of interest. Direct benefits are those realized in the watershed itself, such as improved water quality and quantity, and biodiversity protection. Additionally, the health of a watershed has profound implications on near-shore resources below its reaches, including beaches and coral reefs. This chapter reviews the major benefits of watershed conservation and discusses the economic value of these activities.

working paper

Economic lessons from control efforts for an invasive species: Miconia calvescens in Hawaii

Once established, invasive species can rapidly and irreversibly alter ecosystems and degrade the value of ecosystem services. Optimal control of an unwanted species solves for a trajectory of removals that minimizes the present value of removal costs and residual damages from the remaining population. The shrubby tree, Miconia calvescens, is used to illustrate dynamic policy options for a forest invader. Potential damages to Hawaii’s forest ecosystems are related to decreased aquifer recharge, biodiversity, and other ecosystem values. We find that population reduction is the optimal management policy for the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii. On the island of Kauai, where tree density is lower and search costs higher, optimal policy calls for deferring removal expenditures until the steady state population is reached.

Published: Burnett, K. M., Kaiser, B. A., and Roumasset, J. A., 2007.  Economic lessons from control efforts for an invasive species: Miconia calvescens in Hawaii. Journal of Forest Economics, 13, 151-167. 

Working Paper version

Optimal Public Control of Exotic Species: Preventing the Brown Tree Snake from Invading Hawai‘i

This paper develops a theoretical model for the efficient establishment of economic policy pertaining to invasive species, integrating prevention and control of invasive species into a single model of optimal control policy, and applies this model to the case of the Brown tree snake as a potential invader of Hawaii.

working paper

Economic impacts of non-indigenous species: Miconia and the Hawaiian economy

Imperfect scientific information regarding potential invasiveness, differences between private and public outcomes for individual decisions regarding planting, and inadequate prevention activity combine to impose costs through a change in native ecosystems susceptible to invasion by hardy, rapidly reproducing non-indigenous species. Concepts and tools from economic theory that may improve policy decisions are explored through the specific example of Miconia calvescens in Hawaii. Rapid expansion of Miconia calvescens, an ornamental tree introduced to several Pacific Islands over the last century, threatens local watersheds, endangered species, and recreational and aesthetic values in the Hawaiian and Society Islands. Potential welfare losses from the unchecked spread of Miconia in Hawaii are illustrated. Policy options investigated include accommodation of these losses, efforts at containment, or eradication. Estimates are determined through an optimal control model describing the potential expansion of the weed and its control costs and damages. Results suggest that cost-effective policies will vary with the level of invasion as well as the expected net benefits from control efforts.

working paper

Efficient Water Allocation with Win-Win Conservation Surcharges: The Case of the Ko‘olau Watershed

The one-demand Hotelling model fails to explain the observed specialization of non-renewable resources. We develop a model with multiple demands and resources to show that specialization of resources according to demand is driven by Ricardian comparative advantage while the order of resource use over time is determined by Ricardian absolute advantage. An abundant resource with absolute advantage in all demands must be initially employed in all demands. When each resource has an absolute advantage in some demand, no resource may be used exclusively. The two-by-two model is characterized. Resource and demand-specific taxes are shown to have significant substitution effects. 

working paper

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